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6 - The Camp

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 August 2022

Thomas Cowan
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

WORKERSTRUGGLES IN THE AGRARIANCITY

The chapters thus far have examined the deep entanglements of the agrarian world and global capital that have shaped Gurgaon's spectacular development from agricultural hinterland to global city. In this chapter I want to think with and from the everyday struggles of migrant workers in Gurgaon, questioning what kinds of solidarities and struggles emerge from conditions of marginality and flexibility described in previous chapters, and what these solidarities reveal about subaltern urban politics in the contemporary moment. Where the previous chapter examined tenement-labour regimes, how everyday relations of the worker tenement patterned the mobility and working conditions of Gurgaon's migrant working classes, this chapter is interested in how these conditions shape attendant demands and claims for a place in the city. As I will show, the everyday struggles traced across this chapter are not made to housing, belonging or urban services – the typical registers of subaltern urban politics detailed in urban scholarship – but rather reflective of lives dominated by flux, mobility and precarity, the struggles coalesce around tentative demands for a dignified life. If contemporary scholarship on subaltern urban politics has centred on the territorial warfare waged between global capital and subaltern actors over access and use of urban land, the political struggles traced in the chapter align with the more expansive urban political agenda set out by Henri Lefebvre, as faltering calls for a transformed and renewed right to urban life. Borrowing from work elsewhere on subaltern cosmopolitanism, the chapter understands these disparate political struggles as informed by conditions of labour exploitation both in the home and workplace, migrations between the city and countryside, and ad hoc support networks that characterise the everyday lives of migrant workers in urban India. Attention to the workers’ subaltern cosmopolitanisms provides a way of getting at not only the gendered conditions that inform the workers’ willingness to engage in political action but also the strikingly tentative and speculative character of the demands being made. How have conditions in Gurgaon's tenements and workplaces, described in the previous chapter, shaped particular kinds of politics and agency among migrant workers that exceed claims to freedom?

Type
Chapter
Information
Subaltern Frontiers
Agrarian City-Making in Gurgaon
, pp. 264 - 291
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • The Camp
  • Thomas Cowan, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Subaltern Frontiers
  • Online publication: 12 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009118859.008
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  • The Camp
  • Thomas Cowan, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Subaltern Frontiers
  • Online publication: 12 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009118859.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Camp
  • Thomas Cowan, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Subaltern Frontiers
  • Online publication: 12 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009118859.008
Available formats
×