Uncivil City: Ecology, Equity and the Commons in Delhi


Author: Amita Baviskar

9789353289409 | HB | pp. 300 | 2020 | SAGE, YODA Press

This book takes a hard look at urban planning and governance and its ecological capacity to sustain living.

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As cities become habitat for most of humanity, the question of their ecological capacity to sustain lives worth living becomes ever more critical. Yet, when we listen to debates about city planning and governance, and observe urban environmental campaigns on the ground, we notice that they have little to do with ecology or justice. To examine this contradiction, this book looks at two decades of environmental politics in Delhi—across homes and workplaces, ordinary streets and extraordinary spectacles, and the river and the Ridge. It argues that the terms of the discourse—what is an environmental issue, who is authorised to speak, and which modes of action count as legitimate—are partial, particularistic and perverse. ‘Bourgeois environmentalists’, who claim to speak in the public interest, for nature and society, have made the city what it is: unfair and unliveable. Only citizenship and civility will save the commons—air, water, space and trees—upon which cities depend for survival.

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Amita Baviskar









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About the Author

After studying Economics and Sociology at the University of Delhi, the author received her PhD in Development Sociology from Cornell University. She is currently Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Her research focuses on the cultural politics of environment and development in rural and urban India. She has taught at the University of Delhi and has been a visiting scholar at several universities including Stanford, Cornell, Yale, SciencesPo, University of California at Berkeley and the University of Cape Town. A recipient of the 2010 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences, she was also awarded the 2005 Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies, and the 2008 VKRV Rao Prize for Social Science Research. Her writings explore the themes of resource rights, popular resistance and discourses of environmentalism.


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