Home > Programs > Fragmented Spaces: The grammar and politics of urban housing in India 12-15 Jun’19
12 June, 2019
10:00 AM
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Fragmented Spaces

The grammar and politics of urban housing in India

12 – 15 June, 2019


Affordable Housing and Slum Free Cities are part of a discourse of urban renewal and “world class cities” that is shaping the character of contemporary urbanisation in India. These discourses and programs determine the demand and supply of housing in new ways, producing new kinds of housing exclusions. For example, across India’s metropolitan centres, large amounts of new housing units are being constructed exclusively for the urban poor in multi-storied tenements located in the peripheries, causing ruptures in livelihoods and disconnecting working classes from urban amenities and opportunities. A large proportion of the new housing produced remains vacant, while the housing shortage remains unresolved.

About the Workshop

This workshop aims to get participants thinking about the meanings and values attached to the idea of housing, and to have them critically engage with the vocabularies, tools and frameworks used to govern this activity. It aspires to open up these understandings toward being able to articulate alternative ways of imagining, planning, creating and governing housing in Indian cities and towns.

The workshop will explore the following themes, using a mix of pedagogic modes including interactive discussions, group activities, scenario building, and visual media. We will use case study material to analyse problems as well as ways to envisage change at different scales: the neighbourhood, city or region.


  1. Terminologies, Tropes, Traps:  What are the meanings, interpretations, and political underpinnings of terms like: slums, informal settlements, jhuggi-jhopri, cheri, affordable housing? How do we understand housing exclusions of different types, and the diversity of groups excluded from or disadvantaged with respect to housing in different cities and towns? How do social structures that stem from caste, tribe, religion, gender, class, and ethnicity/nativism shape exclusions or disadvantages? Can policy address or regulate these social/societal dimensions?
  1. Housing as a Verb: How have people (historically) housed themselves in cities, and how do they continue to settle, build, upgrade, expand, repair, retrofit? What strategies of ‘home-making’ can we identify, and are these different from strategies for ‘producing affordable housing’?
  • What are the emerging contexts that are shaping housing demands?
  • What are the different ideas of house/home making and how do they play out on the ground?
  • How are cities responding to these new demands and how do they meet or collide with the above strategies?
  • What does it mean to take repair, retrofitting and upgrading (of slums, urban villages, old inner city housing, etc.) seriously as ways of expanding housing opportunities, in contrast to building new stock? What are the existing practices, the policy dimensions, enabling systems (norms, standards, rules, etc.) and capacity requirements that need to be considered?
  • How can this approach fit within larger housing and urbanisation policies? What are the implications for different urban actors? What could be the new delivery mechanisms?
  • How do ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ systems meet and mingle in these strategies, and what are the openings and closures created in the process? Are larger trends of formalisation of housing producing systematic openings or closures?
  1. Policies, Plans, Projects: How do we understand the overlaps and distinctions between these different technologies of housing governance? How do they push and pull against each other, and how do they constrain or open up possibilities for change?
  2. Solution-impacted communities: How has slum clearance, increased supply of affordable housing, and formalisation of housing exiled urban working classes from cities? How can we understand resettlement colonies?
  1. Histories of the present:
    • Histories of housing advocacy, struggles and movements
    • Understanding contemporary civil society interventions in housing
  2. Toward change: imagining and articulating new responses to the ‘problem of housing’

Resource Persons and collaborating organizations:

  • Karen Coelho, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai
  • Anant Maringanti, Hyderabad Urban Lab (HUL), Hyderabad
  • Prasad Shetty, School of Environment and Architecture, Mumbai
  • Amita Bhide and Lalitha Kamath, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  • Gautam Bhan, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore

Who is the workshop for: 

  1. Those who are part of, or work with, groups that have been marginalized or excluded due to processes related to implementation of urban housing policies.
  2. Lawyers, journalists, activists, and campaigners who would be able to bring their experience and networks to the discussions on urban housing.
  3. Government officers and service providers who aspire to empower citizens.
  4. Citizens/Individuals who want to understand and make sense of the government’s urban housing policies.

Dates and Venue: 12th to 15th June, 2019, Sambhaavnaa Institute, VPO – Kandbari, Tehsil – Palampur, District – Kangra, PIN 176061, Himachal Pradesh

Contribution towards Programs Costs: We hope that participants would contribute an amount of Rs 3500/- towards workshop expenses. However, for those who cannot afford this amount, please feel free to choose the partial contribution option in the application form.

Language: English

How to reach: Please visit: http://www.sambhaavnaa.org/contact-us/

For any other info:  WhatsApp or call Shashank: 889 422 7954 (between 10 am to 5 pm), and e-mail: programs@sambhaavnaa.org

Kindly fill the application form below:

(There is a sincere request we have to make. If you fill the form and get a confirmation from our side for your participation, please do not make cancellations at the last moment, unless there are unforeseen circumstances. So, while filling the form, please try to make sure you do not have anything else planned in advance for the dates of the workshop. It takes some time to process the forms and begin our preparations for the workshop. If you back out after the confirmation, it sends our preparations for a toss, in addition to the time and effort we are expending. Also, many other people who are eager to attend miss out on the opportunity. We shall really appreciate your consideration, and hope you understand the need for such a request.)