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Accepted Paper:

Peripherally Urban: Theorizing the City from a Dhaka Rickshaw Garage  
Annemiek Prins (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the rural-urban comings and goings that are facilitated by 'rickshaw garages' in Dhaka. The inherently transitory space of the rickshaw garage is used as a starting point for analyzing the dialectical tension between access and exclusion that characterizes urban peripheries.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores what the 'urban' looks like from the outsides and outskirts of the city by focusing on the mobilities and migratory trajectories of cycle-rickshaw drivers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The everyday movements and rural-urban migrations of rickshaw drivers are to a large extent facilitated by the 'rickshaw garage'. This inherently transitory space is my point of departure for analyzing the wider dialectics of access and exclusion that characterize urban peripheries. Rickshaw garages are makeshift storage- and sleeping spaces that essentially operate as a gateway to the informal urban economy. The fact that rickshaw drivers can rent their vehicle on a per diem basis, however, makes that the garage functions as a space of both entrance and exit. It enables short-term ventures into the city, as well as frequent rural returns. I argue that the rickshaw garage not only highlights the opacity of the periphery - that is, the inability to identify just what is "coming and going" (Simone 2010:54) - but also how peripherality transcends territorial location. Rickshaw garages are frequently relocated and 'move with' the periphery as the city extends outward and more informal uses of space are pushed towards the fringes. I argue that the opacity and unfixity of such peripheral spaces helps demonstrate how social life is caught up in the tension between 'implosion' and 'explosion' that lies at the heart of processes of urbanization (Lefebvre 2003) and demands a form of urban scholarship that does not confine itself to the boundaries of the city.

Panel P011
Peripheral Speculations in the City [Colleex network]
  Session 1 Friday 24 July, 2020, -