IT-Oriented Infrastructural Development, Urban Co-Dependencies, and the Reconfiguration of Everyday Politics in Pune, India

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

IT-Oriented Infrastructural Development, Urban Co-Dependencies, and the Reconfiguration of Everyday Politics in Pune, India

  • Aditya Ray Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, UK

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Abstract:  Existing scholarship on postcolonial urbanisms has judiciously analysed the role played by the state and private capital in the expansion of global information-technology clusters and exclusive high-tech knowledge enclaves that have emerged across different metropolitan fringes in India and in the wider global South. However, much of this scholarship has focused primarily on the antagonisms wrought by the ‘expulsion’ of local rural populations from their lands and livelihoods, at the hands of the neoliberal state and global capitalist elites. In contrast, there is not enough research on how diverse local communities and subaltern actors emerge in place, and help organise, support and sustain these modern infrastructural spaces well after the initial moment of their establishment. Citing this important gap in our knowledge, this article argues for the need to move beyond some of the adversarial accounts associated with the overarching logics of postcolonial capitalist accumulation and new suburban development in the global South, to focus instead on the complex ‘afterlives’ of these modern high-tech suburban spaces. Drawing on ethnographic data from Pune city in Western India, and an emerging IT and IT-enabled services (IT and ITeS) outsourcing hub, the article reveals that contrary to popular perceptions of high-tech clusters as sovereign spaces for transnational capital, these sites are, in fact, constitutive of their multiple ‘outsides’—which include diverse forms of informal and illegal economies and labour. To evidence these claims, the article highlights different examples of ‘urban co-dependencies’ which have in situ emerged in Pune’s new urban fringes, to meet the growing gaps in demand of essential public services in these areas. The article then proceeds to show how Pune’s local micro-political cultures, including the numerous instances of territorial conflict and collaboration between so-called elites and subaltern actors at the local level, continue to ‘co-shape’ the typologies and the temporalities of local land use, planning and development that takes place in India’s new urban fringes.

Keywords:  critical urban theory; digital geography; global South; high-tech agglomerations; neoliberalism; postcolonial urbanism; urban co-dependence; urban informality



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