"From the Frying-Pan to the Floodplain: Negotiating Land and Water in Chennai's Development"

GEOGRAPHY COFFEE HOUR, CO-HOSTED WITH AND ORGANIZED BY THE QUADRANT PROGRAM'S GLOBAL CULTURES GROUP

- FRI. 14 OCTOBER 2011
- JSA Rm (Blegen 445), Coffee & Cookies 3:15 pm, Talk 3:30 pm

"From the Frying-Pan to the Floodplain: Negotiating Land and Water in
Chennai's Development" - Karen Coelho

[Professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies in Chennai, India]

This talk seeks to show how the complex and changing landscapes of
urban land and water are closely interwoven with the complex and
changing landscapes of slum eviction and relocation in Chennai. On the
one hand, this is a story of the making and remaking of the city's
physical form through historical processes of land reclamation from
water bodies, often as part of state programs of urban expansion for
housing and institutional development. On the other hand, this is also
the story of the constitution of the social geographies of the city
through large-scale relocations, specifically of the urban poor, a
process through which the morphological boundaries between land and
water in urban peripheries have been blurred or reinscribed. Water is
thus a critical dimension of not only the physical but also the social
production of urban space, and continues to give substance to class
and caste geographies in globalizing cities. Changes in relative
values of urban land and water, as well as the politics of municipal
administrative units and finances, have powerfully determined the
spatial placement of the urban poor in and around the city and the
emerging relationships between the citizen and the state.

Close examination of how "urban nature" has been shaped in Chennai
reveals anomalies, contradictions, and reversals, suggesting that
policy shifts are not always teleologically arranged, but often
comprise arbitrary and convenient measures glossed into ecological
rationales, or sometimes simply reflect the incoherence of
environmental governance in
 globalizing cities.

For a complete list of Quadrant lectures, please visit
http://www.ias.umn.edu/quadrantcal.php
Quadrant is a joint initiative of the IAS and the University of Minnesota Press

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