China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Shanghai’s record of massive and rapid urban transformation in the 1990s and 2000s has been the envy of many urban planners and city developers around the world, none more so than in Mumbai. While the two cases are often contrasted on the axes of authoritarian-democratic with high versus low state capacity, in fact the dispossession of homestead and land-led urbanization in Mumbai has been no less striking than in Shanghai. This paper looks at patterns of residential relocation and industrial land conversion in these two Asian metropolises. Using cases of urban villages and slums, and former textile mill lands and their workers, the paper traces variations and convergences in these parallel processes. The winners and losers of relocation are not simply the usual suspects: developers and victims of displacement. The paper shows the significance of institutional legacies in generating a politics of urban citizenship. More generally, the paper discusses the challenges of making contextualized comparisons that balance global accounts of urban transformation (“accumulation by dispossession,” “neoliberal development,” “gentrification”) with local specificities and histories.