Permanent Slums: The Limits of Property and Citizenship for the Urban Poor in Hyderabad, India
International and Area Studies
Despite decades of slum upgradation programs across Indian cities, taking both progressive and repressive forms, slums in the form of infrastructurally or legally precarious housing continue to predominate in the lives low-income households in cities. In this light, my dissertation titled Permanent Slums: Subaltern Property and Citizenship in Hyderabad asks, what are the everyday social relations and politics which shape everyday life and aspirations for the future in the 21st century slums? Building on fieldwork conducted over more than 24 months between 2014 to 2020 in Hyderabad, I argue that the settlement practices of poor populations are inscribed into racial regimes of property produced through differentiated laws, policies, and procedures. Building on empirical case studies, I theorize differentiated property and personhood in Hyderabad as subaltern citizenship, and I show that it resonates with experiences across the Global South. Framed by the push for “slum-free cities” on the one hand, and the increasing pressures of shrinking employment and receding social security for the urban poor on the other hand, my dissertation is an account of how the urban slum is produced and governed, and how these processes reproduce unequal cities and citizenship.