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Producing Space in Neo-liberal Durban, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro

The Violence of Worlding

Over the last two decades, the state-led production of space, as part of worlding cities, has introduced new structural violences into the lives of poor groups in Durban, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro, and has met with resistance. Three main mechanisms have been adopted to produce space—infrastructure and mega-projects, redevelopment, and creating exception regimes for “slums.” The nature of the state that enacts structural violence through worlding processes is simultaneously “strong” and “weak.” It is strong in its bid to open up new spaces for capital accumulation that integrate specific economic circuits, classes and groups “globally,” while weak in its responsibility to protect and strengthen the life chances and claims of poor groups/spaces.


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The paper gratefully draws on many discussions over the project period with faculty colleagues Amita Bhide and Ratoola Kundu, and research associates Nirali Joshi (who co-authored an early iteration of this paper), Nisha Kundar, Radhika Raj, Shruthi Parthasarathy, Shivani Satija, Durgesh Solanki, in Mumbai. The work of colleagues in Durban and Rio de Janeiro (separately cited in the paper) has been immensely important and, along with their efforts in organising fi eld visits, is gratefully acknowledged. Finally, comments from the anonymous reviewer greatly helped clarify the arguments.


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