WORKSHOP: Urban Planning and the Heterogeneous City

The image used in the poster represents the relationship between different words used in media reports with respect to the Mumbai Development Plan, their inter-relations and proximity. The image is created using the software Iramateq. 

A closed workshop on Mumbai’s Development Plan 2014 – 2034*
By the Laboratory of Urban Sociology, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland Center for Urban Policy and Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India

The revision of Mumbai’s development plan induced controversies, which reached far beyond the realm of planning experts and mobilized a wide and diverse public. Reflecting public concerns and ambitions, it acted as a crystallization point in the making of urban development and planning as public problems. In these controversies over a common urban future conflicting visions of the ‘good’ city and related modes of urban transformation entered into an open competition, calling into question current planning tools and processes, and the theories on which they are based. In doing so the controversies bring to the fore the social, political, and technical complexity contemporary urban planning has to deal with in today’s highly heterogeneous cities. As conflicting visions of the ‘good’ path to urbanization inform planning tools and regulations, they gain an operational dimension. In doing so normative and dominant visions of urban development deny and actively reduce the diversity of modes of urbanization constitutive of the contemporary city. Fostering urban transformation towards a desired future, planning tools and regulations become objects of criticism.

The conflicting positions in the controversies allow us to reflect on the politics of regulations and how planning tools tend to disrupt and prevent alternative modes of urban development. Planning rests on spatial and conceptual boundary making – i.e. recognizing and stabilizing territorial differences as distinct – which usually takes the form of demarcation and classification, inevitably distinguishing inside from outside. Conceptually and spatially (re-) drawing and contesting these boundaries are at the core of politics of categories. The political dimension of boundary making becomes apparent in the constant attempts of their framing and reframing. Inclusion and exclusion through demarcation and categorization is the necessary basis of planning where special zones and exemption clauses divide Mumbai’s population into Koliwadas, Gaothans, Slums, Non-Development Zones (NDZ) or Natural Areas (NA) marking territories of differentiated development. Central to the controversies, which revolve around the making of the MDP is the question of participation and what it potentially would entail. Essentially it is about who has a saying in the decision making process and who’s claims are silenced or ignored. The polemics of participation are carried out over questions of legitimization to take part (or not) in the planning process, which is essentially one of expertise and knowledge but also of representation and justice. In that sense claims for increased participation call for restructuring the relation between state and society.

Program: Wednesday 23rd November, 2016

10:00-10:30 | Welcome coffee

10:30-10:45 | Welcome and introduction

10:45-11:00 | Background of the Research, Theoretical Focus

11:00-11:30 | Research presentation by FLASH team

11:30-13:00 | Panel discussion: Planning the Heterogeneous City; Amita Bhide (moderation), V. K. Phatak, Sitaram Shelar, Hussain Indorewala, Parag Alavani

13:00-15:00 | Lunch 15:00-16:00 | Session 1: Politics of Regulations; Presented by Amita Bhide and Tobias Baitsch; Discussants: Sahil Gandhi and Hussain Indorewala

16:00-17:00 | Session 2: Politics of Categories; Presented by Christine Lutringer and Salomé Houllier-Binder; Discussants: Lalitha Kamath and Malini Krishnankutty

17:00-18:00 | Session 3: Polemics of Participation; Presented by Luca Pattaroni and Richa Bhardwaj; Discussants: Sitaram Shelar

In this workshop we would like to reflect on and refine our understanding of the heterogeneity of contemporary urban development and the challenges it raises to urban planning. In that sense we put up for discussion preliminary findings of our research titled Urban Planning and the Heterogeneous City: A study of the technical, social and political controversies around the 2014- 2034 Mumbai Development Plan. Situated at the crossroad of sociology, architecture and planning, and political economy, this collaborative research between the Laboratory of Urban Sociology, EPFL and the Center for Urban Policy and Governance, TISS investigates the complex and contested process of the production of Mumbai’s DP and the controversies it induced. In order to understand the stakes of those debates and the heterogeneous urban fabric of Mumbai they reveal, we employ the methods of mapping controversies allowing representing the richness and complexity of the controversies on Mumbai’s urban future. In combination with a media analysis and stakeholders interviews this permits us to describe and analyze ‘in vivo’ the field of urban development, its actors, and various conceptions of the ‘good’ paths to development. As the events around the Mumbai’s DP unfold, this workshop offers the opportunity to reflect on the way urban knowledge is produced and we hope our findings enriching current and future debates.

* The workshop is not open to participants. The preliminary findings will be shared on our blog and website. Watch this space for more information. 



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