‘Mongrel City’: Cosmopolitan Neighbourliness in a Delhi Squatter Settlement.

5 October 2010, 17:00 - 19:00

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

Ayona Datta (Lecturer, Cities Programme, London School of Economics)

This talk discuses the construction of a 'cosmopolitan neighbourliness' which emerges in a Delhi squatter settlement in the context of a violent imposition of a state rule of law against all 'illegal' settlements.  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 then becomes a microcosm of a 'mongrel city', a place which through its set of oppositional constructs remains inherently 'urban'. This talk finally closes with the suggestion that in these constructs, it is women in the settlement however, who become the collaterals against parochialism, anti-cosmopolitanism and intolerance; whose bodies become the neutral territories against which the fault-lines of cosmopolitan neighbourliness is produced.


Ayona Datta is Lecturer in the Cities Programme, Dept of Sociology at the London School of Economics. She has an interdisciplinary background in architecture, environmental design and planning, and her teaching and research spans across sociology, geography, and architecture. Her research interests are around the constructions of gendered body, social agency and cultural difference and ways that these transform social power in a variety of urban contexts.




Open to all.  No registration required.

Part of the City Seminar series. 
For more information about the group, please visit the link on the right hand side of this page.