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The Meaning of the Local: politics of place in urban India

Geert De Neve, Henrike Donner (eds)
Routledge (December 2006)

This book examines the meaning of locality in urban India through studies of social, spatial and historical associations between communities and places. By focusing on specific localities, it unpacks the meaning of the local in a variety of urban contexts. Moving beyond the assertion that space is socially constructed, the contributors explore the way in which social and political relations are spatially and historically contingent. Through a focus on metropolitan areas as well as small towns, detailed ethnographies highlight the vitality of place-making in the lives of city-dwellers and the centrality of a 'politics of the local' in the production of hierarchy and inequality. The volume demonstrates how urban spaces are increasingly interconnected while local boundaries and group-based identities are reconstructed, and often consolidated, through the use of traditional idioms and localised practices.

All contributors relate detailed case studies of everyday activities to a range of contemporary debates that highlight different aspects of cultural identities, economic restructuring and political processes in India. Thus, the volume provides an interdisciplinary perspective on urban lifestyles, and highlights the cultural politics of these rapidly changing political and economic environments.