Everyday Enclaves- The Fence and the Village : Enquiring into the formation of enclaves within Urban Villages

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Submission Summary
The rise of “fortified enclaves” across cities around the world, and especially those of the global South, has been widely discussed, documented and deliberated upon (Caldeira, Sassen, Harvey et al). Across diverse global examples, prevailing academic discourse frames these enclaves in terms of their patterns of production and their effect on the everyday life. Contemporary literature on “enclave urbanism” holds such enclaves responsible for driving a steep decline in the urban public realm, and fragmenting urban areas into segregated islands of socio-economic homogeneity. The forces of globalization and top-down frameworks of neo-liberal urban development have been widely discussed as some of the primary drivers leading to the development of these walled, controlled, and segregated units. Such enclaves are usually seen as catering to the needs and ensuring the dominance of the urban elite, while removing the urban poor and minimizing the everyday citizens’ right to the city. In India, with economic liberalization and the rise of the urban middle class, cities have witnessed a rapid proliferation of enclave urbanism in various forms. This phenomenon is manifested acutely in developing urban peripheries (such as NOIDA/Gurgaon in the National Capital Region, New Town Kolkata and the like) in the form large, gated residential developments where ‘exclusivity’ is sold as a premium. This body of research focuses on the rise of urban enclaves of a very different nature - those emerging within high density, mixed use, and otherwise socio-economically diverse urban environments, and often in the absence of any form of top-down zoning regulations. Such self-regulated ‘everyday enclaves’ are generated within negotiated public spaces comprising heterogeneous population demographics and counter the established global narratives of enclave urbanism. These units are much smaller in scale, and are strongly differentiated in their morphology and methods of production from the enclave urbanism of global discourse. However, they nevertheless share important structural similarities in terms of access control, surveillance, and socio-economic differentiation from their surrounding fabric. As examples of dense urban formations with a diversity of stakeholders, the urban villages of Delhi offer unique grounds to study the specific manifestations of these Indian “enclaves”. These villages, despite being located spatially within the city, have been kept outside the purview of the top-down urban planning, development, and legislative frameworks, and have thus been shielded from the forces of ‘rational zoning’. This has resulted in pockets of high density, mixed use, socially diverse developments in these areas. However, despite remaining unaffected by the generative forces of typical urban enclaves, the phenomenon of ‘bottom-up enclave urbanism’ and their patterns of demarcation are clearly visible. Drawing upon the case of two such urban villages in Delhi – Saidulajab and Lado Sarai -, this paper argues that fortified enclaves are not exclusively a product of land use control and zoning regulations, but are also generated through varied urban forces and everyday negotiation. Through the use of personal interviews, spatial mapping and data analysis, the paper examines the study of ‘enclave urbanism’ beyond a general alarmist narrative, and attempts to move towards precise empirical research into the causes and effects of the emergence of enclaves in specific local contexts. This work is an attempt to place the conditions of fortification against a much broader context, and understand the generative mechanisms, urban processes and complex economic and socio-political interactions which lead to the formation of these “everyday enclaves”.
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1: Inclusiveness and empowerment. Al-Majlis: planning with and for communities
Independent Researcher
Independent Researcher
Assistant Professor
School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi
Studio Lotus

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