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Title: The accommodation city : private low-income housing and urban space in Dhaka and Mumbai
Author: Dasgupta, Shreyashi
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 6084
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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Cities in the Global South are understood as a mélange of paradoxical typologies between slums and high rises. Both in urban theory and practice, these symbolizations are classified respectively as informal and formal. However, as scholars like Ananya Roy and Colin McFarlane have shown, these binaries are overlapping, mutually dependent and supportive categories. Between an emphasis on slums and high rises, work tends to overlook other forms of ‘in-between’ low-income housing spaces that offer a diversity of arrangements, especially in the face of the rural-urban migration for workers. This dissertation examines the transitory and low-income housing as form, process and space for low-income workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Mumbai, India. It analyses the grounded spatial forms, as well as how these urban accommodations are managed and governed, and coexist across South Asian contexts. In Dhaka, my case studies focus on ‘Mess Housing’ typology in two neighbourhoods’: Rayerbazaar and Mirpur; while in Mumbai, it focuses on ‘Dormitory’ and ‘Work-Residence’ typologies in three neighbourhoods’: Vikhroli, Nahur and Sion-Dharavi. Based on 12 months of ethnographic research including participant observation, transect walks, semi-structured and unstructured interviews with multiple state and non-state actors, I argue that temporality plays an important role in the ongoing and perpetual transformation of urban spaces. I emphasize the need to further interrogate debates between housing and accommodation, and I trace how these urban vocabularies are deeply related and also distinct in the context of two South Asian cities. The main aim of this research is to develop the concept of the ‘Accommodation City’ to challenge more static descriptions of in-between housing spaces and the seemingly dysfunctional landscapes of Southern megacities. First, I address who lives in the ‘Accommodation City’ by reproducing the intricate and ambiguous socio-spatial patterns of the workers living and inhabiting these spaces to discern the categories of temporary residents’, and changing urban form. Second, I analyse who builds. The process of construction and management of the ‘Accommodation City’ traces the influence of the real estate industry mainly through its local builders and sub contractors. I particularly engage with theories on new urban coalitions and growth assemblages to highlight the role of market forces in the flexibilisation of labour and space. Third, I interrogate who governs. I consider the role of the tax collector as a street level bureaucrat to re-create the everyday negotiations and claim-making that defines, negotiates, and contests in-between housing spaces. Using a critical local focus, this research advances an emerging agenda in urban studies that examines ‘in-between’ housing, positioned within a larger story of the production of space, southern urbanism, temporality, and urban governance in the Global South. Empirically, this research fills a void in South Asian literature that reduces housing-in-between to informal, illegal and slum spaces, and undermines the multiple layers of space-making by the state, non-state actors, and ordinary citizens.
Supervisor: Denyer Willis, Graham Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: accommodation city ; India ; Bangladesh ; urban housing ; southern urbanism ; urban space ; labour