Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mumbai as the Sorcerer's City

In a recent talk at the University of Toronto, Vyjayanthi Rao described the radical transformation underway in Mumbai's cityscape. Using remarkable images, she showed how slums were being displaced to the city limits while the new architectural forms of the global city rise up from within the skin of the old industrial city. Rahul Srivastava, an urban anthropologist in India who is a colleague of Rao's in the impressive PUKAR urban studies institute, describes this process as a kind of sorcery in which new technologies reveal land available for new construction that even longtime residents knew nothing about: "...there must have been some hidden, powerful magic in the city’s polluted air. Otherwise how else would acres of land suddenly emerge from its congested belly? Land — collectively the size of Nariman Point — has appeared apparently out of nowhere, in the middle of the city’s industrial heart, ripened and ready to bloom into malls and posh skyscrapers. It must be Mumbai’s famed magic." Read Srivastava's article in the Mumbai Mirror here.


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