Rule By Aesthetics: World-Class City Making in Delhi

Paperback | October 14, 2015

byD. Asher Ghertner

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Rule by Aesthetics offers a powerful examination of the process and experience of mass demolition in the world's second largest city of Delhi, India. Using Delhi's millennial effort to become a "world-class city," the book shows how aesthetic norms can replace the procedures of mapping andsurveying typically considered necessary to administer space. This practice of evaluating territory based on its adherence to aesthetic norms - what Ghertner calls "rule by aesthetics" - allowed the state in Delhi to intervene in the once ungovernable space of slums, overcoming its historicalreliance on inaccurate maps and statistics. Slums hence were declared illegal because they looked illegal, an arrangement that led to the displacement of a million slum residents in the first decade of the 21st century. Drawing on close ethnographic engagement with the slum residents targeted for removal, as well as the planners, judges, and politicians who targeted them, the book demonstrates how easily plans, laws, and democratic procedures can be subverted once the subjects of democracy are seen as visually outof place. Slum dwellers' creative appropriation of dominant aesthetic norms shows, however, that aesthetic rule does not mark the end of democratic claims making. Rather, it signals a new relationship between the mechanism of government and the practice of politics, one in which struggles for a moreinclusive city rely more than ever on urban aesthetics, in Delhi as in aspiring world-class cities the world over.

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Rule by Aesthetics offers a powerful examination of the process and experience of mass demolition in the world's second largest city of Delhi, India. Using Delhi's millennial effort to become a "world-class city," the book shows how aesthetic norms can replace the procedures of mapping andsurveying typically considered necessary to adm...

D. Asher Ghertner is an interdisciplinary scholar who uses the contemporary politics of slum demolition and urban renewal in India to challenge conventional theories of economic transition, city planning and political rule. He is Assistant Professor in Geography and Director of the South Asian Studies Program at Rutgers University. He ...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.09 × 6.1 × 0.79 inPublished:October 14, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199385572

ISBN - 13:9780199385577

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsNote on translation and transliterationIntroduction1. World-class city making2. Gentrifying the state: Governing through property3. Nuisance talk: From sensory disgust to urban abjection4. Aesthetic criminalization: The nuisance of slums5. World-class detritus: The sense of unbelonging6. The propriety of property: Resettlement and the pursuit of belonging7. ConclusionNotesReferences

Editorial Reviews

"In the early 21st century, as slum populations are expanding rapidly in the world's megacities, new governmental programs of eviction are being mobilized to 'make room' for land uses considered more appropriate to elite visions of the global city. In this original, meticulous investigation,Asher Ghertner explores how such transformations have been implemented and contested in millennial Delhi. In so doing, he offers an illuminating, if disturbing, portrait of emergent patterns of legal struggle, displacement, and resistance in that city, while also provoking urbanists to devote moreattention to the role of 'aesthetic governmentality' in the contemporary remaking of urban space." --Neil Brenner, Professor of Urban Theory, Harvard University, and author of New State Spaces