Strategizing Against Injustice: A Bottom-Up Perspective

11 October 2011 (Block 2: Social Justice and the Coastal City)


About the lecture:
Chennai is a city of approximately 4,5 million people on the east coast of India. The city is developing fast economically, which leads to increasing demands for infrastructure and roads as well as for housing and facilities for the growing middle classes and expats. At the same time, about 800,000 people live in many slums or poor fishing colonies, and some such areas are increasingly targeted for relocation - to make space for city development. This lecture considers the case of the relocation of 22,000 households to two resettlement areas to the south of Chennai since 2000. Initially the process was praised as good practise, but people in the two sites are increasingly dissatisfied and angry with facilities, employment opportunities and transport. Against the background of the general position of the urban poor in Indian cities – marked by positions of low caste status, dependency and political powerlessness – the lecture considers the actions by the people themselves to fight for a better living, as well as those from engaged outsiders such as NGOs and a lawyers union.

Dr Joop de Wit Dr Joop de Wit
Joop de Wit is an anthropologist (PhD Free University Amsterdam) teaching as Senior Lecturer Public Policy and Development Management at the Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands. Before joining ISS in 2000, he worked at the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies (I.H.S.) in Rotterdam. He also worked with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs as local Program Advisor of an urban poverty project in Bangalore, India, and subsequently as Institutional Development Advisor at the Ministry for Development Cooperation in The Hague.

His regional interest is in Asia (India, Vietnam and Indonesia) but he also worked in Namibia, Ethiopia and Surinam, and he carried out consultancies in Thailand and The Philippines. His publications include a book, articles and chapters on his key research interests of urban poverty alleviation, urban (local) governance, decentralization, and community dynamics and community-government interfaces. A recent book is a co-edited volume published in 2008 by Sage ‘New Forms of Governance in Urban India: Shifts, Models, Networks and Contestations (with Isa Baud).

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