ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Tracing unexpected articulations of Muslim agency in Ahmedabad’s development-induced resettlement sites


Shrey Kapoor - Cornell, Global Development, Ithaca, United States


27 – Muslim agency within and against India’s regimes of urban segregation


This paper examines how Muslim intermediaries react to and repurpose the Hindu Right’s strategic exertion of “neoliberal” and “nationalist” violence in the context of urban dispossession. I home in on the aggressive urban development agenda Narendra Modi adopted in Gujarat shortly after his BJP state government had orchestrated the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom. Using the case of the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, I reveal that Modi’s post-2002 development agenda did not put an end to the Hindu Right’s use of hegemonic violence in Gujarat. The Riverfront’s construction provoked a decade-long struggle that culminated in the exceedingly violent eviction of over 40,000 lower-caste Hindus and Muslims from the heart of the city. Many have been left with no choice but to make life and livelihoods in underserved resettlement sites at the margins that have since undergone violent processes of religious resegregation. Yet so far, scholars have mostly framed these resettlement sites as abject and depoliticized by-products of neoliberal city-making. In this paper, I trace how Muslim intermediaries have both reproduced the Hindu Right’s frontier-making violence and staged Gujarat’s largest anti-CAA protest in Ajit Mills, one of the Riverfront’s lesser-known resettlement sites. I thereby highlight how these spaces can serve as portals into the mechanisms of violence and agency that both constitute and might possibly serve to undermine the Hindu Right’s broader hegemonic project.