Aesthetic Citizenship: Popular Culture, Migrant Youth, and the Making of 'World Class' Delhi
Social and Cultural Anthropology
Delhi has nearly doubled in population since the early 1990s due to in-migration (censusindia.gov, 2011). These migrants, like migrants around the world, strive to adapt to their new surroundings by producing themselves in ways which make them socially, economically, and politically viable. My project examines how recent international and intranational immigrant youth who have come to Delhi to partake in its economic possibilities and, in some cases, to escape political uncertainty, are utilizing globally circulating popular cultural forms to make themselves visible in a moment when the city strives to recast its image as a world class destination for roaming capital (Roy, 2011). I focus on two super diverse settlement communities in South Delhi to explore the citizenship making claims of immigrant youth who, to date, have been virtually invisible in academic and popular narratives of the city. Specifically, I follow three groups of ethnically diverse migrant youth from these two settlement communities as they engage with hip hop, a popular cultural form originating in Black American communities in the 1970s (Chang, 2006; Morgan, 2009; Rose, 1994). As hip hop's music and its practices gain popularity amongst youth in Delhi from across a wide spectrum of class and ethnic positions, I trace how these migrant youth utilize its styles and globally reaching networks coupled with inexpensive digital capture technology to fashion themselves and their settlement communities as part of a world class urbanity in the making. .
Stanton E. Wortham