The panel explores how urban restructuring in South Asia has engendered new understandings and practices of urban property, marked by processes of contestation. The panel examines various aspects of this new political arena and of the ways that property mediates and is mediated by social relations.
Over the last decades, processes of economic transformation and market liberalisation have had far-reaching impacts on property regimes across the world. These transformations are felt particularly strongly in India's cities, where property has been redefined as real estate, and become transformed by neoliberal agendas and aspirations. Thus, rights of ownership, access and customary usage are contested and subjected to intensive processes of re-evaluation as cities and booming small towns emerge as 'loci of the practices of predatory global capital' (Appadurai 2000). These politics of contestation and related economies of desire have already been charted with reference to the emergence of a new middle-class and to new processes of exclusion and dispossession (Baviskar 2003, Fernandes 2004, Rao 2010). This panel will provide insights into the way macro-level processes affect the politics of property at the micro-level through ethnographies of policies, of narratives of 'development'/'progress', and of the ways in which property mediates and is mediated by social relationships. The panel will seek to explore how localised spheres of value (e.g market value as well as values of kinship and sociality) are being transformed by being connected, disconnected and re-imagined through property relations (Strang and Busse 2011). The panel will contribute to current debates on urban restructuring in South Asia but crucially link these to novel approaches to property in anthropology (Hann 1998, Verdery and Humphrey 2004).