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Illusion of Permanence: Interview with Arjun Appadurai by Perspecta 34 Author(s): Arjun Appadurai Source: Perspecta, Vol. 34 (2003), pp.

44-52 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of Perspecta. Stable URL: Accessed: 17/04/2010 13:16
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(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996); ArjunAppadurai, "Deep Democracy: Urban Governmentality and the Horizon of Politics,"

PublicCulture14,1 (2002),41-47; Arjun PublicCulture12, 3 Mumbai," Appadurai, "SpectralHousingand UrbanCleansing:Notes on Millennial "Grassroots Globalization and the ResearchImagination," PublicCulture12, 1 (2000),1-19; Arjun (2000),627-51; Arjun Appadurai, Appadurai,
"Dead Certainty: Ethnic Violence in the Era of Globalization," Public Culture 10, 2 (1998), 225-47.

P34 From the social location in which you speak, anthropology, how do you understand the questions we raise in this journal? How do you think about architecture or building? is notoriously Arjun Appadurai Anthropology capricious,even promiscuous in its interests, but Ithinkit'sfairto say that there is a and flows and revivedinterest-apart fromissues of transnationality globalization-in the city. Urbananthropologyhad become for a whilea somewhat small and specialized field,and althoughI have to correctfor my own bias and interestand sense of my own drift,Ithinkthat's changing, that there is a more general resuscitationof interestin things urban.Thereare a numberof reasons forthat, not the least being the sense that in the city a varietyof important trans-sectionaland transnational things are being played out. Therehas also been a standing interest,which continues to be very active, in the problematicsof space. referencepoint. Here, someone likede Certeau remainsan important As for architecture specifically,my interestin it is not a productof

generaltheorizingor broad conceptual interests,but comes froma sense that it'scatching a lot of vitaldebates and energies. The most salientfact is that in my recent work in India,and particularly in Bombay,I have been with the and deeply impressed energy,fervor, engagement that surround architectural circles both in terms of practitioners and in terms of teachers, students, and institutions. Thereis a reflectiongoing on among architectsin India-which may well be partof something more widespread-about what we call a "crisis of the discipline": what does it do, what ought it to be doing, etc. That has always interestedme. WhileI recognize that there general problem are debates going on in Europe,the UnitedStates, and elsewhere in the world,I sense that in places likeIndiathe disciplinary crisis, which may be and many otherfields, including is ongoing in architecture anthropology, in a special and deep dialoguewiththe crises in social lifeand the developmentof things likeurbanplanningand housing. This is not an crisis but a crisis that is in a fruitful inward-looking dialogue witha variety of other social crises and contradictions.Architecture is an especially


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inan Unequal Hart we andfriend Keith World, says inMoney colleague fewyearsof a revolution thatcouldbe as longorlonger areinthefirst inthe first revolution. thanthe agricultural decadesof Peoplewho lived havebeenexpectedto spinoutall the agricultural revolution couldhardly its implications forthe nextseveral centuries andevenmillennia. Inthat butIthink thatdoesn'tmake andscrambling, sense, we arestill groping itimpossible to sense that,say,the ITrevolution is launching us intoa different kind of technical andtechnological order. So therearea number of substantive of newness-I mainly do waysto engagewiththe question thatby looking at relations betweenelementsrather thanfocusing on likemigration ormass media. singleelements, P34 Indevelopinga framework forPerspecta34 focusing on Another aboutnewness wayone can makea convincing argument we were interestedinthe ecology of mobile is by looking at the logicof the dispersal of elementslikemass media, architecture, temporary built formsand processes that influencethe contemporary thathavea planetary market andelectronic technology ideology, inits reach,initscoverage, distribution thatis striking with landscape-tourism, displacementsand migrations, housing compared and man-made.Youseem either Ifyouexamine earlier ortechnological. markets,protests,and disasters natural largerevolutions, ideological to claimthatthese processes, when understoodin "relations of itproduces thisdispersal, relations betweenvarious orders unexpected in are the world. How of things. disjuncture," significant shaping globalizing new or contemporary? are these relationsof disjuncture Inallof thisis a dialogue withMarxist ideasaboutthe relations particularly Inthis regard,whatis the differencebetweenthe modernand the andso on. socialrelations, life,technology, amongmaterial ideology, Theseideas,directing us to lookat the pointsof articulation between contemporary? of socialexistence,havebeenourstrongest assets forlooking at layers of disjuncture" newor AA Howthe ideaof "relations definessomething ina kind of general, andstill these relations way.Ifyoulookat inspiring, of things the relations is a tricky elements of the kinds of employment thatarenowpart of the result of global contemporary question. Clearly, Irefer times to by usingthe tropeof "disjuncture" can be seen inearlier involve movements of theyclearly corporate people,skilled strategies, therearetwoorthreethingsthatmight andsemiskilled, andinothercontexts,butIthink intoeconomic nichesat veryshortnotice.This the newnessquestion. Oneis a relational whichis that define answer, confounds anycrudeideathata particular economyseen ina completely we havehadthingslikemigration andvarious formsof mass while bounded betweenbase spatially waycan havea simplerelationship their elements of deep history, mediation fora verylongtime,andeach has a kind andsuperstructure forexample, becauseeach of elements, in I book at these layers can be seen as a part of global my Modernity relationship-as special argue Large-seems systems.So circulatory nowthanintimespast.When different inthisMarxist indeedtherearevertical relations was by youaddmorespecific strikingly view,andMarx the IT[information to that,forexample elements revolution, no meanswrong, butthe layers seem nowto be inescapably technology] partsof orindirectly whichaffectsdirectly ownright, andalsoat a globallevel. many, manyotherthingsinitsfieldof circulatory systemsintheir to see itas having a smoothorcontinuous the kinds of causalities force,it'sverydifficult thatunderlie Marxist history. Therefore, thinking inthe specialforceof the ideology as a Ifyoufurther throw of the market aboutthe relations and production, among,forexample, technology, since cannot see the 1989, not have to be reconsidered but have to be in reconsidered you easily ideology global regulative ideology only inearlier of thatideology In an ad hoc manner on the situation. other one hegemony periods. words, depending thisis to extendthe relational answerandsaythat,yes, the All witha strongprior cannotcometo a givensituation sense abouthowthe relations are buttheir elements we lookat allhavetheir That causalflowswork. forme is whatthe word"disjuncture" I deep histories captures. andsome of them,likethe ITrevolution, areplainly to refer to the strength of the Marxist different, use "relations" to saythat strikingly approach, of their is thatwe cannotdevelopa strong new.Thechallenge thattherearestructured these thingsarenotsimply theory randomly happening, As my has notyetflown. newnessprecisely becausethe owlof Minerva betweenthem.However, the formsof dispersal interactions of these andmorebroadly, because bothinplaceslikeIndia sitetoday, interesting in which we are interested. of the kindsof globalizing questions



andsocial-make itdifficult to havea forces-ideological, technological, a priori sense of howtheyrelate to one another. general Iwouldsay a further wordaboutthe "new orcontemporary" by on "the modern andthe contemporary." ThewayI goingto the question wouldmakethe distinction betweenthe modern andthe contemporary, whichis a verygeneric is a project whereas way,is to say thatmodernity the contemporary is a condition. Different theorists wouldhavedifferent to thiscondition-someone ideasof whatis critical like Giddens Anthony wouldsee itdifferently from someonelikeFredric Jameson,forexample. Thecontemporary is a condition characterized by,amongotherthings, the sortsof linkage, flow that I and write aboutinmyown propinquity, work.Itis the inescapable inwhichlotsof actorsandsocieties condition findthemselves. Onthe otherhand,themodern, andthisis partly inmytitleModernity at Large, is nota fact,an epoch,ora stage reflected buta vision, a conception, ora project. is nowa Therefore, modernity with a set as a project particular of characteristics, givenglobalization And it is a it has condition. because multiple project, contemporary ideathatthese projects Theearly were shapesandincarnations. andsomehowinherently is one of the main necessarily things convergent IargueagainstinModernity at Large andelsewhere.

whatwe usedto callhabit-involve of deliberate attention, largeamounts andlabor. Part of thatattention, andlabor is involved in effort, effort, collective ideasof whatis possible.Therefore, forthe localto havesome embodiment takesan effort which transcends thatvery spatialized So the is not it idea as the to, were,de-spatialize local,or spatiality. evacuate the spatial from the local,butto addsomething to it.Thatis to to takeitsform, therehas to be an effort, a say,formerespatiality of locality," whichis muchmorecomplex. Oncethateffort to "production the localis fully we will observed, also,amongother produce things,get a deepersense of whatitmeansto produce, andsustain inhabit, spatial relations. Wewon'thavesubstituted else for the spatial of part something the localbutwill haveenriched inthe local. the logicof the spatial P34 Forarchitectsthis emphasison boththe material substance and the imaginedsocial life makesfor a challengenot onlywhen readingthe city but also when engaging in its design. Whatroledo physicalplaces-areas of a city,spaces in a neighborhood-playin the production of locality?Howdoes the temporary qualityof these physicalplaces affectthis production?

AA Physical intwo inverse butrelated placesareveryimportant ways.I amthinking of myowninformed sense of spatial andspatial practice Onthe one hand,to go backto Bourdieu, particularly. logicinBombay insofar as physical in,either spaces arewhata personfindshimself to them,borninthem,orexposedto them,theyform partof the brought the workof the production of locality which is done. P34 Youoften talkaboutthe ways in whichthe imagination, backdrop against of the material thatindividuals work draw rolein from, spaces arepart Physical experience,plays an important alongside empirical andinotherinstances on, to some extenttakeforgranted, highlight, constructingspatialrealitiesfor people, for example,in cities. How use. Onthe otherhand,physical of localitya move awayfroma is yourconcept of the production consciously sharpen, spaces arealso social A lot of interests of lots of actors. of work is directed to the of the local? sense objects spatialized the production, orenjoyment of maintenance, distribution, reproduction, sense-areas, spaces, of locality andthe ideaof the AAThelink betweenthe production physical places.Physical placesinthisbroad withthe production of as a socialpractice to develop (anideaIam still further) roads,streets,locations-havea dualrelationship trying imagination of the of its and form condition also ideaIwant an expanded ideaof the social.Inthatexpanded is actually locality. production, they They part form an important Oneof the notonlyto makeroomforthe socialas defined partof the objectof thatproduction. by reproductive logicsis that to take dialectical and introduce the playof in the that Pierre Bourdieu has and relationship challenges rules,regulations, regularities, way to see that there is than more in for for them-but to make room the social about contingencies simply something projects, spoken inthisprocess. mechanical involved incollective social forwishes,andso on. Andthese defined production visions, Letme movebriefly to the temporary of these physical andidiosyncratic quality individual, ways. ways,notjustinpersonal, to the core the interests close of of 34. The thateventhe most of locality is a reminder Theproduction places,getting Perspecta immediate to is that insofar as social order that seem to function without mechanical forms of spatial thing say arrangements-homes, apparently of anytype-are temporary, habitations, streets,roads,construction butsimply or intentionality they bythe forceof routinedesign,contingency,



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produce anxiety.Inplaces likeBombay (andthe question, of course, is how many places are likeBombay,and to what extent, and that is an open matterin my mind)-that is, very dense places with unequalaccess to spatial resources, volatilepolitics,and a growingcrisis of governance and civility (inshort, a descriptionof many mega-cities in the poorer countriesof the worldand of some mega-cities in the wealthiercountries in the world,too)-the temporarynatureof a lot of physicalplaces and spaces shoots the projectof producinglocalitythroughwith a constant in collective under-textof anxiety.This anxietyis frequently articulated forms, such as ethnic violence, about which I have written,and has large forthe way politicsis conducted in these cities, whether it's implications throughethnic violence or otherforms. The question of temporarinesshas a particular edge forvictimsof the the badly homeless, under-housed, physicaldispossession-the housed-with whom Iam particularly concerned in Bombay.Forthem manythings in lifehave a temporaryquality-not only physicalresources, spatialresources, and housing but also social, political,and moral relationsand relationsto the sources of power.The productionof locality in the face of the is an effortto produce the sense of continuity A of their amount of social energy and temporariness things. huge is devoted to producing,if not the illusion,then the personal creativity sense of permanence in the face of the temporary. The phenomenology of the temporarymust be carefully distinguishedby group locationin the politicaleconomy of places likeBombay.The temporarinessof things if you are a high-levelspeculator in the derivativesmarketof Bombay is than ifyou are livingin a viaduct in Bombay. verydeeply different P34 Would you elaborate on the phrase "illusion of permanence" in the context of the social life of Bombay or cities like Bombay? AA Yes, well, you know, Iwas using the phrase "illusion of permanence" because I'vealways loved it. It'sthe titleof a wonderfulbook by Francis Hutchinsabout the Britishin Indiaat the peak of theirpower. It'sa lovely phrase because it captures a kindof desire of the imperial system, but the anguish and the ambivalenceinvolvedin these things: simultaneously the arrogantconceit of certaingrand projects,likethe imperial project, but also the humblethingthat ordinary people seek constantlyto create. As far as the bottom halfof the populationin Bombay is concerned, in then the sense of manyways lifeis an effortto produce, if not the illusion, or continuity, or something likepermanence in the face of the stability, of almost allthe arrangementsof social knowntemporarinessor volatility life-who is where, who can you love, what's available,where do you live,

who has a space, willsomeone allotyou a house, willyou get temporary housing, etc. Inthis regard,the projectof the productionof localityis an effortto workagainst the constant corrosionof the present, both by change and Allcommunitiesknow that the workof producingtheir by uncertainty. own humanity is tied up in being able to relyon what may subsist from today to tomorrow,fromthis generationto the next, and so on. Inthat of permanence"summarizesa very largeamount of sense, "theillusion what people do in a quotidianway, for example, pumpingup a kerosene stove on the pavement to produce your meal at nine o'clock with whateverit is you have been able to buy, scrounge, borrow,beg, or get. That is the productionof the illusion of permanence, that you willhave dinnertonight,as you willtomorrownight,and so on-if you are lucky.Its more ambitiousend is the question of havinga reliablestructure-a roof over yourhead, a place on a piece of pavement, etc. But in a society in which both the site and the means of livelihood have a high degree of for many people, the workof producingstabilityis very hardto volatility distinguishfromthe struggleto get some sense that what you do and what you have mightlast untiltomorrow.


P34 In Modernity at Large you introduce "diasporic public spheres" as a prevalent product of the cultural dimensions of globalization. If the city is made up of these diasporas, but also of ostensibly stable social forms and institutions, how are we to understand the relationship between the moving and the "stable"? AA Ina generalway, I have referred to the distinctionbetween modernity as a project and the contemporaryas a condition.Allgroups in cities like Bombay have movement of some kindas a projectin theirlives, and movement of some kindas a conditionin theirlives. But forthe poor in Bombay,movement is more often a conditionthan a project.That is to say, they are more often its objects than its subjects. By saying this, I am that the question of movement and stability is deeply indicating of things in responsiveto the question of where you are in the distribution this kindof place. Thatsaid, to the extent that we look at cities as made up of these diasporas, the question is not so much an across-the-board between diasporicand more stable forms and institutions. relationship


social groups, everybodyin these places is to some Rather,for particular extent tied up with networksof variouskindsthat extend well beyond the city.And for everyone, to some extent, they are nevertheless able to, or forced to, or wish to produce some kindof locallylegiblestability. thing is how Everybodyis engaged in this tension. The reallyinteresting in one group's diaspora is anothergroup'sstability; groups cities like form of the socio-spatial backdropagainst which other Bombay part groups formtheirprojects.So even ifyou have a group that is highly diasporic,insofaras it sediments itselfin certainlocations and takes up certainpractices and occupations dealingwithgoods and trades in Bombay,it becomes partof the stable backdropfor some other group's visionand some other group'seffortto move. We need a very sensitive pictureof the social morphologyof places likeBombayto attack the question of the relationbetween the movingand the stable because it is not an across-the-board, general law underwhich allgroups exist. P34 You have argued that ethnic violence is one kind of response to uncertainty and a way in which community is produced. In "Spectral Housing and Urban Cleansing" the material substance of the city-its spaces, infrastructure, and legalities-was the site where this was played out. What does that say about the relationship among the body, physical space, and the idea of community? AA I have given a talkthat is in the process of makingits way intoa formal,writtenformon my experience of Bombay in which I use the and democracy."Inthat essay I make an analysisof the phrase "dirt growinganxietyamong the middleclasses in Bombay,as well as their about practices of defecation, urination, allies in the municipality, spitting, etc. These are very serious issues in Bombay,and as you watch the on billboards,in newspapers, in discourse of cleanliness being articulated slogans, and so on allover the city,you begin to see that there is a series of things beginningto be melded together.The firstone is that the poor themselves are seen as some formof social dirt.This harksback to the and Danger, a classic workarguingthat work of MaryDouglas in Purity dirtis matterout of place. InBombay the poor are certainlymatterout of place, but they are also producingmatterout of place-that is, urineand feces-in publicplaces. Itis a city dominatedby homelessness, in which a large percentage of people have no access to sanitation.Itis very common for seven or eight hundredhouseholds to share one, two, or three toilets-an impossible physicalreality. Imagine,in a situationlike this, also havingto face an intense publicdiscourse against the sullying

of the city by urineand by fecal matter,and you can understandhow there is a tendency to see bodilywaste and the bodies of the poor as somehow connected. Inthe case of Bombay and Indiawe have an alarming tendency to see the crowded areas in which eitherslums or homeless people exist as in this case Muslims,and partof the geography of undesirableminorities, of people who produce political violence, these days often talked about in the idiomof terror. Some time ago, there was a majorattack on the Red Fortin Delhiby people who were alleged terrorists supported by or fromPakistan.The newspaper coverage talkedvividly of how directly these terrorists were able to make theirway to the Red Fortby occupying the largelyMuslimslums that surroundit, going "like rats"throughthese small, crowded, filthyplaces to performacts of violence. The discourse of this event, and of other events since, is a disturbing convergence of class of bodilyeffluvia, the horror of the state and the upper-middle numberone, of the poor, numbertwo, and of dangerous political numberthree. This is the darkside of the linkamong the body, minorities, physicalspace, and the idea of community. have always been sensitiveto the particularly, Anthropologists, positivedimensions of the ways in which many humancommunitieshave social solidarity, and cosmoconstructed theirideas of moralsolidarity, by playingon signs, symbols, indexes, and icons logicalregularity map of coherence. In deployed off the body as a foundational variously the examples I have just given, we see the dystopianversion. Inthose places of the world,mega-cities among them, where physicalcohabitation has become enormouslystrained,the potentialof the body for solidarity, and integration, to be a trope for community, trust, integrity, takes just the reverseform:bodies become a site forthe locationof fear, contamination, filth,and danger. images of pollution,


P34 You mention "redundancy" as a concept that describes the competing and overlapping forms of governance taking the place of the nation-state. How is this an emerging concept for the organization of social life in cities, but also in relation to transnational definitions of locality? the idea of redundancy, what Iwas tryingto pointto is AA Informulating societies in which we feel there is no ruleof law, or that in particular





itoftenturnsoutthat of chaos,on closerinspection wherethereis a kind of claimsinvolving thereis a multiplicity and sovereignty, legitimacy, Inthe largecitiesthatare Itis a matter of too much,nottoo little. power. as manypeoplehave nowas newformsof the city-state, emerging to use another recentphrase, thisis suggested,orcity-regions, of claimsinthe idiom of power: over true.There is a multiplicity especially relations. Youhave resources, particular particular spaces, particular socialforces,socialmovements, movements, popular nongovernmental state movements, movements, citygovernments, municipal allexercising federal verycomplex power governments, governments, etc. Ina way,you claimsovergroupsandbodies,locations, resources, battle between coulddefinemega-cities as engagedina complex Youcouldevensay thatthis claims to legitimate governance. competing of whatthese city-states battle is virtually a definition are. is concerned, As faras the transnational definition of locality manyof these players movements, (social municipal governments, regional areinfinitely linked to either trans-federal governments) governments, notleastglobal which their orotherinterests, corporations, counterparts transnational aretransnational movements, forces,transnational players, of redundancy, the too-muchness of claims andso on. Themultiplicity the transnational is connected to overlegitimate power, intimately inwhichmanyof these agenciesandmovements are networks andof which theyarea part. implicated P34 How is a new "ecology of expertise"being shaped by forms likethe Alliance,what you call a emergent organizational "deep democracy"?

to myownresearch. Movements like AAThisis a verycentral question inMumbai, aredoingwhatsimilar theAlliance, whichIhavestudied havedoneforsome time,whichis changethe relationship movements to makea betweenthose inpowerandthose outsideof it,inparticular to thethought of peoplelike claim, sympathetic powerful knowledge a nongovernmental ThisAlliance PauloFreire. together brings forthe Protection of AreaResource calledSPARC (Society organization calledMahila formed a grassroots women's Milan, Centers), organization in of of one the and former sex workers by toughestparts Bombay, a called NSDF SlumDwellers national Federation). (National organization ownexperiences andabout P34 Youhave said that the urbanpoor in Mumbai Thepoorknowa greatdealabouttheir are "citizens Thosewhoclaim to be concerned the conditions of their experiences. withouta city."Whatis the politics of becoming visible for the incitiesandsocietiesas a whole andimproved aboutpoverty equity Ifit is not merelylivingin the geographyof the poor in Mumbai? of the poor. Thosemobilized needto makeroomforthe expertise city,what is it that makes one a citizen in a city?

in populations amongthe poorwhohavebecomeexplicitly politicized termsof urban andsocialgovernance arenowmaking ita central partof their ownideological andpractical to say thattheyarelooking strategies notforknowledge butforan evenplaying fieldon which to exercise the have.Thistakesmany the mostgeneral forms, knowledge theyalready inmanypro-poor movements aboutallformsof beingthe cynicism technical thatarebrought to them,on the grounds thatitis, expertise farremoved from their ownlife,second,usually first, unilaterally imposed, to be technically forexample, inrelation to and,third, worthless, proven likewaterorhousing. matters veryconcrete Basedon this,a newlogicis beingputintoplace.Thesepro-poor the ones Ihavestudied, areseekingto become movements, including indefining, activepartners forexample, whatitmeansto be a skilled thansaying,"Don't we knoweverything," builder. Rather tellus anything, which wouldbe a verysimpleminded the answeris:"We would reversal, inthe question liketo becomeplayers of howyoubuild adequate forthe poorina citylikeBombay. Wehaveideasaboutfinance, housing aboutsewage,aboutdrainage." Atfirst aboutdesign,aboutstructure, of vaguepopulist butitis actually a position, glance,thislookslikea kind becauseitcallsintoquestion the entire subversive architecture position, the post-World IIdevelopment of knowledge on which War is machine founded. on the context,depending on the project, on Depending depending the issueinquestion, these contestations arerestructuring whatitmeans to havespecialized Totakeon one deep implication, thereis knowledge. the a virtually divorce of idea of effective and complete knowledge the of these ideaof research movements. Thatsingle pro-poor amongmany whichexpertise matter under is completely changesthe conditions Ifyousay "I inreliable am interested butIreally have defined. knowledge, inwhatyoucallresearch," no interest we havethe whatsoever of the kind of debateinprogress today.Itis notjusta matter beginnings Itis a debateaboutthe deep of a contestoverpowerandknowledge. thatsurround the production of knowledge. protocols



AA Housing,perhaps more than any other single dimensionof lifein a to reversethe terms of the question, what the poor in many AA Actually, of being invisible.They sufferfroma cases are seeking is the privilege place likeBombay,bringstogether issues of what others have called Itis the place where questions of dignity, I to in some of other work. have tried of as my recognitionand redistribution. visibility, suggest surplus with being homeless, in questions of equity,and questions of securitycome together. Housing One of the troubleswith being poor, and certainly Itdoesn't make allows you to pick the conditionsof yourown visibility. Bombay is that you are on permanentview. A very large partof the it gives you a say in whom it doesn't make you over-visible, of the laborand of the work of the imagination, you invisible, productionof locality, for the disenfranchised,forthe homeless, visionof social reproduction you are visibleto, in who is visibleto you, and underwhat conditions.The addressed effortto combat the tyrannyof the temporaryis substantially the poor, in places likeBombay is how to cope with being permanently in a place likeBombay throughhousing. and inescapablyon view. A lot of physicalarrangements,includingmany tied up withwhat it means Whatit means to be wealthyis intimately of the arrangementsthat we would call temporary(pieces of cloth to have "securetenure."We used to thinkof tenure as being landtenure, between rooms, strung-upplastic pieces over your head), have to do urbanissue issue. Itis now a profoundly with insulation, fromthe wear and tear of natural forces, fromnoise, from and largelyas an agrarian to make their urban are the which the often the of other but from classes, especially spatialexistence poor seeking through pollution, very gaze middleclasses, and of the state. Ina way, what the poor often seek in legallyrecognized. Housingis also the place where key forces tend to crisscross on places likeBombay is the privilegesof invisibility. and recognition,it catches to exercise effective anotherdimensionin which, likeredistribution Fromthis point of view, citizenshipis the ability to technicaland cultural a maximumtension: in relation matters. Housing ways, behindthe frontstage, by having power in the city in invisible is a place where infrastructure meets the livingroutinesof social life. Itis access to people and relationsto resources that do not have to be unlikesewage, drinking and many other absolutely advertised. Ina funnyway, transparencyis the baneful,unchosen water,electricity, Itis the place where such infrastructure forms of infrastructure. conditionof the poor.Althoughit'sconsidered a virtuein the high-minded critical of style, of social standing, of allthe things that and so on, meets issues of dignity, discourse of many governments, philanthropies, multilaterals, in fact it is a conditionwithouta choice; it is a prisonforthe poor.They make humans humans. No single other arrangementstages the complex The and visiblenegotiationgoing on between technicaland cultural livein transparency.Inshort, this is the fishbowlkindof transparency. features in social life.Givenits nature,housing can always vanish, even for people power of people who are trulycitizens in a place likeBombay is the who are economicallyverywell off. Forpeople who aren't,it often doesn't but simplyinvisibly-have social power to-not necessarilycorruptly exist in the firstplace. effects in relation to theirown social projects. Itis this tension, where these two axes meet, in which housing between visibility and The poor have the least optimalrelationship too littlepower.Whatthey seek is to reduce dwells. One is the recognitionand redistribution axis, and the other is the power:too much visibility, theirvisibility-not inthe political sense of the termas a metaphorfor axis, as faras urbanmorphologyand design and materiality go, between dimensions of social life. voice, but directvisibility-interms of the gaze, in the interestsof affecting the technicaland the cultural what has been called the nervoussystem of power in a city likeBombay. A bad mixof visibility P34 How have the poor's needs to define their own space through and effectivepower defines the citizenshipof the more power. what you refer to as a "politics of patience" and "deep poor,and what they seek is to change that mix:less visibility, democracy" rubbed up against the more abstract designs of planners, developers, and state authorities in Bombay?

P34 In "Deep Democracy" you state, "Housing can be argued to be the single most critical site of this city's politics of citizenship." What are the different causalities and relationships at work that make housing such a nexus of issues (ethnic violence, power inequalities, real-estate speculation, class proximity) in Bombay?

AND THE POLITICS AA A majorissue inthe politicsof housing in Bombay is the question of HOUSING for homeless populationsthat have been relocationand rehabilitation OF PATIENCE tracks. These populationshave been at the livingalong the railroad
center of the politicsof the state versus the poor and also face the rage of middle-class commuters whose trainshave been slowed down by shacks close to the tracks. Familieslive,in some cases, in temporary shacks two, three, fourfeet fromwhere commutertrainsrun.Regularly or killed,and as a resultthese slum populationshave people are injured


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been slowing the trainsdown, sometimes stoning trains,causing dwellerswere being damage, etc. This is a hot issue. These railway-track forciblyremovedwithtractorsbroughtin by the city governmentand the to demolish homes. railways One of the majortriumphsof the Allianceis its success in breaking the Indian logjamsthat arose in negotiationsamong the Indianrailways, government,the governmentof the city of Bombay,variousmunicipal authorities,and the WorldBank (whichhas a majortransportation project in Bombay).The Alliancemanaged to make its way intothis incredibly to complex local, national,global politicsby showing that it has the ability in some to move to these slum dwellers temporaryquarters, persuade cases builtby the Alliancemembers, in other cases by the state. The Allianceinterveneson behalfof the urbanpoor, saying, "Wewillget these move ifyou providereliablehousing, in a reliable people to voluntarily manner,throughour good offices-and we willpromisethat those homes parts of the city,willnot be abused, sold, put you provide,in particular back on the market,etc. We willguaranteethat we know who these we'll place them in a reliable way inthe people are familyby family; spaces allottedto them."They have peacefullypersuaded the slum because dwellersto demolishtheirown houses-which is revolutionary demolitionis usuallywhat's done to them-on the promiseof relocation. This is possibly one of the great crises and dramas of urban housing in Bombay.It'san example of where the governance involving people who dwelled on these tracks were dealingwithone of the cruel forms of temporariness,where trainsare whizzingby two feet fromyour child.They have shown patience in waitingfor a better three-year-old indeed that has been deliveredby the Alliance,throughits and solution, withother forms of politicalnegotiationand deliberation very complex agencies. The Allianceitselfhas shown its own forms of patience in the face of assets throughpatience in dealing emergency. Ithas builtup its political other players. with city politics,developers, the WorldBank, and multiple Ithas deployed allof that capital,which is itselfbuilton the politics of patience in the face of emergency,to persuade these slum dwellerson the tracks to demolishtheirown homes, to bid good-bye to secure forms of temporaryhousing in exchange for uncertainforms of permanent housing. These slum dwellershad to be convinced that what is at the other end won't be taken away fromthem. That'sat least an example of the play,the deep play,and the multiplelevels of play,between different forms of senses of emergency, and different temporalities,different patience in the politicsof housing. The "rubbing up"of these two kindsof visions would be much more much more sterile,much more violent, brutal,much more unproductive, and much more zero-sum were it not forthe negotiationby groups like

the Allianceof the different urgencies and emergencies of the state and to the urgencies and emergencies of the poor. other agencies in relation The Alliancehas managed to findpoints of mutualproductivity, therefore preventingthe kindof brutalfrictionsthat often happen when these kinds of visions bump up against each other.


P34 The apprehension in believing in architecture's and urbanism's capacity to effect social change could perhaps benefit from a thorough understanding of how people imagine and understand their urban landscapes-how they negotiate the terms and conditions of the city's various economies. Could you comment on the difficult translation between how people imagine and produce these urban landscapes and how researchers and architects "read"these processes? AA One of the things that poorerpeople do to negotiate the complex realitiesof the tensions between the temporaryand the permanent,and so on, is constantlyseek to be informedabout the social forces at play in is doing this, but poorerpeople are doing theirenvironment. Everybody this especially,seeking to amass as much knowledge as possible about who is who, what is what, who's relatedto whom, and why. Forexample, a newspaper boy who is droppinga newspaper at your place willsee you talkingto somebody else, and he willeitherask somebody else or, if he can, ask you who that person was, or what she was doing, or why she and rude, was there. At firstsight, it seems (a)irrelevant, (b)impertinent but what is happeningis a constant archiving.Ina general way, what the poor seek to do in cities likeBombay is to constantlyrenovatethis archiveof knowledge, of people, of relations,of resources. Thatin itselfis a laboriousprocess, but it is done allthe time. Youdo not know what will become relevantat a particular point,when something temporary becomes even less than that, or threatensto disappear,or something forexample,you are totally without becomes permanent: unattractive The relation of actors housing,and it looks likeyou willbe that way forever. of this type, and theirvisionsof who they are, what they are doing, and how and Ithinkit is they survive,to researchersand architectsis veryimportant, at the heartof manyof the crises we are allconcerned with. when we talked about expertise One point I began to articulate earlieris that as the urbanpoor become more politicizedin places like the terms of the relationsbetween key Bombay,they are redefining elements that we take to be associated, likeresearch,theory,testing, and so on. We on the academic side tend to hypothesis, intervention, have a naturalized protocolbetween the relationsof these things. The


poor are now in a positionto begin to systematicallydisaggregate those things and to say, "Todo A, why do we need B?" That is one site of debate, but the other is something even more central. Itis the subject of anotherpaper that I have just writtenin the context of a collective exercise undertakenby the WorldBank in regard to relationsbetween anthropologistsand economists, between culture to poverty,called "TheCapacityto Aspire." and development in relation The essential point here is that in the kindof dialogue of the deaf between anthropologistsand economists, or people on the cultureside and people on the economic side, anthropologistshave essentially handed over the entirebusiness of the futureto economics. Cultureitself seen as a kindof is substantially, by however sophisticated a definition, rearviewmirror, habit,tradition, norm,etc., but always lookingback. The question of the future-of people's wishes, choices, projects,visions, etc.,-has been more or less handed over to the domain of economics, of individuals' choices and preferences, and so on. Whatwe in in a second, is anthropologyneed to do, and Iwillcome to architecture firstof allto recognize that there is a whole way in which the futureitselfis formed as much as the past is. People in communitiesalways culturally have visions, expectations, plans, wants, and these are not just We in things;these are also formed collectively. disaggregated, individual anthropologyby and large,withtinyexceptions here and there, have totallyfailedto catch this, and we end up thereforein this standoffwith don't understandhow people operate,"and economists, saying, "You That is allfine, but what have we done about "You are too individualistic." it? Verylittle. Within that generalframeworkI have triedto argue that one of the that has now become capacities (inthe language of capacity building standardin respect to the poor)is what I call "thecapacity to aspire."The effortis to recognize that poor people have visions for where they would liketo go, for hope itself,but aspirationsneed to be seen as more complex than simplyisolated desires or wishes. This capacity, Iargue, is not simplya generalizedgood but something that is unequally distributed."Poverty" could be defined as havinga bad place in the distribution of the capacity to aspire. Iargue that this capacity is improvedthe more chance you have to exercise it. Inthat argumentthe at how the capacityto recommendationis that we need to look carefully and why the terms of recognitionare always skewed aspire is distributed povertyargumentsaying that the poor against the poor. It'snot a cultural don't have visions or hopes, but ratherthat this capacity develops only throughuse. Those who use it more, obviously,develop it more. And if you do not have the occasion to use it a lot, it is going to suffer. This bringsme to the business of architecture and urbanplanning and these kinds of disciplines,in that they rarely take intoaccount this

take into account that the homeless, or faculty.They rarely aspirational the poorlyhoused, or the under-housed,or the disenfranchisedhave projects,have visions, have strong ideas about where they would liketo liveand how. Moreimportant, they have a particular place in this to housing economy havingto do withthe capacity to aspire. Inrelation and issues of builtformand space, practices that architectsand urban plannersare involvedin, they should not just add this understandingin but place this concern at the center of theirwork.So when you say "the translation between how people imagineand produce these difficult urbanlandscapes and how researchersand architects 'read'these processes," Iwould say that by and large researcherstend to precisely read the forms, but I don't thinkthey adequatelyread the reader. To put it simply,architectsand plannersoften do not recognize that the people whose concerns they are seeking to address have very complicated aspirational maps, in which spatialissues play a part.The issue is not to cut straightthroughto get the quickest road fromthe the designer's head or mandate or professionalcontext to delivering house, the road,the shopping mall,the trainstation, but to figureout where those elements actuallymightfitmore fruitfully into strengthening what Icall "thecapacity to aspire." Whetherit is architecture, or urbanplanning,or a softer discipline likeanthropology, which is simplytryingto make an interpretive and the forms it contribution, engaging that capacity,its distribution, takes-that is the centralchallenge. Inshort, we need to be newlyalertto the danger that in pursuingthe aspirationsof urbanplanningor the fantasies of architects,we mightneglect the centralasset we need to recognize:the capacityto aspire of the urbanpoor.Such aspirations includethe ways in which the poor mightwish to shape their centrally about the techniques and spaces. Thisfact should compel a new humility technologies of the expert.


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