Labour and the Social Production of Urban Built Spaces in Delhi by Dr T.G. Suresh

Labour and the Social Production of Urban Built Spaces in Delhi

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Date and Time: October 2, 2012, from 3-4:30pm

Chair: Prof Neil Coe, FASS Geography Dept Head

Venue: Executive Seminar Room, AS7 level 1-07

About the Talk

In urban pathways similar to other Asian cities, building and architectural production has become the dominant spatial practice in Delhi during 2000-2010. Large-scale production of built spaces then requires commensurate labour time. Its mobilization and social detentions entail intermediaries as well as historically novel instrumentalities. In the empirical context of these intersecting processes in south Delhi this  talk explores the array of instrumentalities through which urban capital secures labour time required for mass production of built spaces. A multitude of rural artisans and unskilled labour has been incorporated into urban process in Delhi as wage seekers mark new kinds of linkages that the city is developing with the agrarian strata. Since the advent of mass production technologies in construction, the social form of this labour is found in circulatory, fragmentary  and  bounded in native place affinities. Dr Suresh will discuss how rural artisans and unskilled labour are mobilized from distant regions through intermediaries, synchronized into urban production process, and how that regime is sustained institutionally over a longer period.

Using the narrative data collected from construction sites and labour barracks of south Delhi Dr Suresh explains why the building labour is bounded in fragmented social form, looking at how that converges with the peculiarities of the production system and how the labour barracks become sites of enclosures, a space where migrants experience some form of social quarantine. The subjective motivations of the three key actors i.e., the urban construction firms, intermediaries and the labour are contentious, yet the production regime that has come to form completes its course. Drawing from the workers narratives on labour process this paper attempts to explain the stability of this production regime in terms of how the social agency web around thekedars and jamadards enables the construction firms to control their social body.


About the Speaker

Dr Suresh is an Assistant Professor in Political Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He received his PhD in Chinese Studies from JNU, MA in Politics and International Relations from Mahatma Gandhi University and BA in Philosophy from Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, Kerala. His teaching and current research engages with the critical globalization studies and the comparative political economy of India and China. He is concerned with how the global flows are transforming the cities in India and China and in that processes generating new sets of vulnerabilities for the urban labor. His publications in the form of book chapters and journal articles cover themes including urban labor regime and labor in global production networks.

RSVP via email to Rachel at fasrda at nus dot edu dot sg