Imaginary Border(land)s: Urban Territoriality Reconsidered (RC21@Delhi; 18-21 Sep 2019)

Avishek Ray's picture
Call for Papers
January 20, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Cultural History / Studies, Geography, Sociology, Urban History / Studies

Scholars are now recognising that borders generate a dynamism in and of themselves, and that cross-border linkages are far more central to identities than previously acknowledged. Trans-border movement -- of both people and artefacts -- has become a part of ‘modern’ state-system, whilst ‘deterritorialization’ (Appadurai, 1990) characterizes the contemporary globalised world. However, existing studies mostly focus on the national-statist borders. This panel instead probes into imaginary border(land)s within the cityspace: how modern techniques of territorialization and urban imagination furnish urban ‘enclaves’. For example, some city-roads have separately demarcated bicyclists’ track. The Uber map has its own cartographic imagination (in most instances, different from the municipality map) of the city that renders certain places less accessible than others. The Google traffic app offers user-based navigation solutions customized for cars, two-wheelers, pedestrian etc. Certain gated communities restrict the mobility of certain occupational communities beyond the gates. In essence, these examples point to how imaginary border(land)s realign the geographies of the city, and in so doing, furnish an ‘enclavist’ identity for certain interstitial-heterotopic communities: say, the maid, the food-delivery personnel, the bicyclist etc. Taking off from here, this panel seeks to reflect on the separatist undercurrent immanent in the urban imagination of certain forms of mobility, and the specificity of the socio-spatial production involved therein. How does the digital mapping of the ‘smart’ city build on this? What responses from the interstitial space does this furnish? Theoretically, the objective is to question the restrictive nature of the urbanisation process -- from the perspective of the Indian cities --, leading to a specific sense of local territoriality.

For detailed instructions for abstract submission, please visit: Please note that the panel number for this session is P15.


Contact Info: 

Avishek Ray (Session Convenor) 

Faculty, National Institute of Technology Silchar