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Title: Possessing the city : urban space and property relations in Delhi, 1911-47
Author: Vanaik, Anish
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This dissertation pursues three overarching themes. The first of these is empirical: to illuminate the actual functioning of the property market in Delhi. After reconstructing the pattern of depression and boom from 1920-40, I argue that these cycles shaped the nature of participation in the market. During the depression of the 1920s many indigenous financial firms came to rely on property rentals and sales. Alongside these, a nascent sector concentrating primarily in real estate came into existence. Compared to planned state intervention, most of Delhi’s urban fabric was created by private construction. Analysis of the state’s relationship to the property market is the second aim of the work. The colonial state both embraced and was constrained by the commodification of land. Though it was the largest landowner in the city, it did not leverage this position. Rather than construction, the state was happier to act on the market indirectly. One means of indirect action concerned forms representations of urban land as commodity. Leases, advertisements and other documents were crucial for its circulation. The strength of the state in the property market derived from its role as enforcer and repository of representations of commodified space. A third aim is to study the forms of struggle engendered by urban property. Struggles over commodification of urban land, when they took collective forms, did not necessarily splinter along class lines. In fact, subsidised housing emerged out of caste, class and nationalist struggles. Conversely, the commodification of land was at issue in struggles that were not ostensibly about property. For instance, this dissertation tracks its salience for understanding communal conflicts over urban shrines. Taken together, the three themes constitute a picture of the city in which forms of capital accumulation – particularly those relating to space – cannot be ignored.
Supervisor: Gooptu, Nandini Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; History of Asia & Far East ; Economic and Social History ; International,imperial and global history ; Delhi (India) ; Urban History ; land ; property relations