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“Mongrel City”: Cosmopolitan Neighbourliness in a Delhi Squatter Settlement

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Abstract:  This paper examines the construction of a “cosmopolitan neighbourliness” which emerges in a Delhi squatter settlement in the context of communal violence. Through interviews with over 80 inhabitants, I suggest that an openness to “others” in the settlement is produced in order to construct a home for oneself in an exclusionary city through a series of relational constructs—between the “cosmopolitan” city and the “parochial” village; between the “murderous” city and the “compassionate” slum; between the exclusionary urban public sphere and the “inclusive” neighbourhood sphere. The squatter settlement is internalised as a microcosm of a “mongrel city”, a place which through its set of oppositional constructs becomes inherently “urban”. “Cosmopolitan neighbourliness”, however, remains fragile and gendered. It is a continuous strategic practice that attempts to bridge across differences of caste and religion through gendered performances that avert and discourage communal violence even when the city becomes murderous.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Cities Programme, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics, London, UK;

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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