Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Nikhil Anand


Un/Making the City follows the lives of people in a neighborhood partially demolished during the construction of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) in Lahore, Pakistan to understand the ways in which infrastructural development constitutes the city and its citizens. By attending to relevant bureaucratic and legal practices, micro politics of engagement between citizens and the state, everyday negotiations between people and their sociomaterial environment I show how cities and citizens are mediated and made through the discursive and material practices of infrastructural development. If infrastructures exist as unsteady assemblages of social and material relations, their development and construction are critical sites for unmaking and remaking a multiplicity of historical, technical, political, and temporal forms. Across five substantive chapters I show how an analytic focus on the ‘meantime’ of infrastructures visibilizes the normally invisible relationship between destruction and development and challenges linear narratives of progress. This undoing of the city and citizens is a contested process that occurs at the conjuncture of colonial legal and bureaucratic structures, postcolonial development priorities, and the post 9/11 securitization of Pakistan’s infrastructural policy. The dissertation is also informed by the understanding that infrastructures are nested in a range of material and social relations and flows. Understanding the impact of their construction then necessitates attention to the ways in which socio-material boundaries around their development are constructed and contested. At stake here are questions of legibility, and attribution of cause and responsibility for rectification regarding the varied spatial and temporal effects of infrastructural construction. The chapters in this dissertation focus on the ways in which construction of the metro train engages with land ownership practices, informs people’s access to the city and participation in decision making processes, inflicts debilitating physical ruination, and impacts people’s relations and expectations with the state. Although infrastructures seek to build the liberal (and neoliberal) city, citizens, and a circulating public, this dissertations argues that their very construction and existence, as revealed through a focus on the development process, is predicated on the active production of illiberal citizen-subjects whose rights to housing, work, and the city are undermined. This ethnography is based on fieldwork conducted in the Old Anarkali area of Lahore over a period of sixteen months from 2016-2018.


Available to all on Saturday, July 05, 2025

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