#TMOC (The Matter Of Cities, January 20, 2018):

Do villages grow up to be cities? Do you have piped water? Is your city your home? Do you feel free? Or, abandoned? Or, anonymous? Why do people come together and cohabit in large numbers? Does this itself create new possibilities (& externalities)? How ‘natural’ is a city? Can there be villages within a city unit? What is called urban? Are cities heterogeneous and diverse, but also internally hierarchical? Why do ghettoes, slums, & suburbs emerge and persist? Do cities mirror the modern nation state or the medieval empires? Can cities transform agricultural practices? Can a city sustain itself even as it destroys the river (say) on which it was set up? Are homeless poor people capable of looking after themselves? Can cities ever be taken over by slums? How large can they get? Is a lot of urban planning (paradoxically) ‘anti-urban’? Can the Market or the State fulfill peoples’ dreams? Are urban (efficiency-driven) and rural (productivity-driven) properties very differently organized? Is the future of agriculture going to drive the future of cities? Is the ‘soft’ city as real as the concrete city? Would several cities get regionally disembedded? Must the urban imagination also include the hills and the seas…? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from urban geography (Dr. Anant Maringanti, Hyderabad Urban Lab, Hyderabad), & urban history (Dr. Awadhendra Sharan, CSDS, New Delhi).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TMOC show.

Dr. Anant Maringanti (urban geography) is the Executive Director of Hyderabad Urban Lab (a multi disciplinary research programme run by the Right to the City Foundation) in Hyderabad. Prior to this, he has worked as a Research Consultant to Center for Policy Research (CPR), Delhi (2011-2012) & National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore (2009). He also worked as a postdoctoral fellow at National University of Singapore (NUS, 2007-2009). He has also taught graduate and undergraduate courses at the NUS, University of Hyderabad and the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR, Hyderabad). His research and teaching interests centre on questions of urbanization and globalization from the South Asian vantage point. He received his M.A. (2003) & Ph.D. (2007) in Geography from the University of Minnesota, USA. His Ph.D. dissertation was titled, ‘Neoliberal inscriptions and contestations in Hyderabad’. He also completed his B.E. in Electrical Engineering (1983) from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Dr. Maringanti has published in various academic journals such as Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), Space and Polity, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, & Urban Geography, on social movements, politics of development and urbanization. As part of his work as a Special Correspondent with The Indian Express (1992-1997), he reported on economic reforms, environmental conflicts & human rights in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Dr. Maringanti has been awarded the Antipode Scholar Activist Colalborative Research Grant (2012) for a study titled ‘Spatial Political Economies of Waste in Hyderabad: A Geographies From Below Approach’). He was also the MacArthur Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (2003-2007) at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, Minnesota (USA), & also the Summer Fellow (2006) at the International Summer School in Economic Geography, Madison Wisconsin (USA).

Dr. Awadhendra Sharan (urban history) is an Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi. He has also served as Visiting Faculty at School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi, and has taught occasional courses at University of Delhi (DU). Prior to CSDS, he was a Senior Researcher, Social Development at TARU Leading Edge, New Delhi (1998-2000). His research interests are in the field of urban infrastructure and environmental issues. His current research is focused on economies and cultures of waste and pollution in colonial India. He completed his B.A. (History, 1987), M.A. (Modern Indian History, 1990) from DU. He then went to complete his Ph.D. from Department of History, University of Chicago (1998) where his doctoral thesis was on ‘The Question of Untouchability in Colonial Bihar, 1860s to 1950s’. He is the author of the monograph ‘In the City, Out of Place: Nuisance, Pollution and Dwelling in Modern Delhi, c.1860-2000’ (Delhi, OUP, 2014) wherein he examines several interrelated issues concerning urban environmental improvement, such as, water purity and sanitation, nuisance and traditional trades, congestion, pollution and toxicity, combining extensive archival research with a study of contemporary sources. Continuing along similar lines, his current research is focused on the history of air pollution in colonial cities, especially Bombay and Calcutta wherein he addresses concerns related to industrial and domestic smoke, fuel use, labour efficiency, public health and urban aesthetics. He has also published essays on the pollution of Ganges and Yamuna rivers, both historical and in the contemporary, examining the interface between urban infrastructure and environment. His works have been published in various research journals, such as, ‘City, Culture And Society’, ‘Indian Economic and Social History Review’, and in the Sarai Reader series. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the journal Urbanisation (Sage).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TMOC mentions: Antonio Gramsci, Jane Jacobs, William Cronon, & Rajnarayan Chandavarkar, among others.