Accepted paper:

Exclusive Citizenship: Modern Housing Complex and Shopping Malls


Rajasri Basu (Rabindra Bharati University)

Paper short abstract:

Restructuring and renewal of the metropolises by constructing modern high-rising housing complexes and shopping malls have become common features in India. This paper focuses on how restructuring of geographical space of Kolkata exclude some from the purview of citizenship and thereby redefining both the space and the connotation of citizenship.

Paper long abstract:

During the last two decades, Kolkata, the principal metropolis of eastern India has witnessed the construction of highly priced housing complexes and shopping malls in spaces previously occupied mostly by sick and small manufacturing factories. Factories typify a particular population with a distinctive culture. The occupation of this space by modern housing complexes and shopping malls with both horizontal and vertical expansion has created a kind of citizenship, which is exclusionary in the sense that common people find it hard to enter these places. This is a new phenomenon in a city like Kolkata, which is known very much for its warmth and openness. Once Kolkata was known for her warm hospitality to the extent that every visitor to a house was invariably seen-off to the place of his/her boarding of the vehicle---public or otherwise---by the host. A recent survey of three new housing complexes—South City and Udita in the southern fringe and Space Town in the northern part has revealed how entry into these spaces is highly guarded through various methods and thereby making 'others' as aliens. Likewise, the very glossy, fashionable, somewhat different 'world' of a shopping mall prevents the 'commoners' to enter these places. Interestingly, the globalized culture of both the housing complexes and the shopping malls allow spaces consciously for highly localized and even ethnic cultures. This, urban renewal not only redefines citizenship but also through restructuring of spaces prioritizes the social necessities, demands and creates new spaces for all.

panel G11
Urban renewal over the globe: the spatial dimensions of citizenship