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Accepted Paper:

Urban Religious Rituals in the Face of Gentrification: Exploring Delhi's Sacred Landscape and Social Transformations  
Smytta Yadav

Paper Short Abstract:

In the context of gentrification in Delhi, how do street shrines serve as spaces for urban forms of resistance within informal settlements in the city?

Paper Abstract:

As global resistance against gentrification gains momentum and awareness of the spatial dimensions of urban religion expands, the often overlooked role of ritual dimensions in conflicts over space takes center stage. This study aims to illuminate how shrines within the city of Delhi have sustained their social existence amidst the urban changes brought about by gentrification, operating independently of state intervention, particularly in relation to land dynamics in sought-after urban rental areas. The research also delves into the materiality of ritual transformations in the urban landscape through street shrines and associated art.

The study argues that urban rituals, exemplified by shrine art in Delhi, serve as a means of identifying the sacred geography of the city. It highlights the intricate delineation of holy boundaries through conflicting interpretations of land use and decision-making authority. Given the scarcity and value of land in Delhi, especially in light of recent political developments challenging the city's secular identity, this study assumes particular significance. It involves an ethnographic investigation into the ideological dimensions of Delhi's political economy, land dynamics, and the intersection of religion in the urban fabric.

The paper is keen on understanding the forms of urban governance applied to religious practices, especially in a city like Delhi characterized by high rates of cultural and religious diversity. Exploring how political protests and insurrections adopt religious liturgies and languages adds another layer of complexity to this discussion.

Panel P192
Rituals against gentrification: drama, performance and religious practices in spaces of urban conflict
  Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -