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Messy UrbanismUnderstanding the "Other" Cities of Asia$
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Manish Chalana

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789888208333

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888208333.001.0001

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Making Sense of the Order in the Disorder in Delhi’s Kathputli Colony

Making Sense of the Order in the Disorder in Delhi’s Kathputli Colony

(p.155) Chapter 9 Making Sense of the Order in the Disorder in Delhi’s Kathputli Colony
Messy Urbanism

Manish Chalana

Susmita Rishi

Hong Kong University Press

Most Indian cities have large pockets of informal settlements that urban planners, policy makers and the middle classes see as disorderly and in need of formalization. This formalization-focused perspective, on the one hand, undervalues the existing, unique patterns of urban development that have evolved in previous centuries and which continue to serve the residents who live and work there. On the other hand, this perspective instills great faith in modernist housing alternatives that have had limited success worldwide. This chapter focuses on Kathputli Colony—a settlement of traditional artists, street performers and other working classes—in Delhi that has been slated for demolition and redevelopment since 2007. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the form of oral interviews, participant and field observation and field reconnaissance, the work presents four vignettes of homes and clusters to demonstrate the uniqueness of these self- and incrementally-built spaces, particularly the connection between spatial ordering and sociocultural and economic practices of the residents. The authors argue that Kathputli Colony’s apparent “disorder” has in fact multiple layers of ordering and the planned modernist resettlement alternative would be highly disruptive to the traditional ways of living and livelihoods of the residents.

Keywords:   Urban informality, Slum, Kathputti Colony, Delhi

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