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Rebuilding Kinship and Care after Dislocation in Urban South Asia: Colombo and Lahore Compared

This project looks at two cities in South Asia, Lahore in Pakistan and Colombo in Sri Lanka, and focuses on the ways in which urban development projects affect the lives of poor people who have been displaced to make way for new infrastructural projects.

Across Asia, cities are at once growing fast and changing in many ways. The promise of creating a "world-class city" is cited as a justification for both investments in public infrastructure like rapid transit systems and recreational facilities, and for an explosion in speculative construction work. Not surprisingly, poor and vulnerable groups of city-dwellers are most likely to be affected by these developments and most likely to be affected negatively. 

Looking at Lahore in Pakistan and Colombo in Sri Lanka, this project focuses on the ways in which urban development projects affect the lives of poor people who have been displaced to make way for new infrastructural projects. Poor people in Asian cities are often understood through two-dimensional stereotypes, in which concentrations of low-income households are associated with crime and bad health. Clearing this housing and moving the poor into new living arrangements, often in high-rise buildings, can be presented as a kind of social cleansing. But we know that low-income communities are much more varied than the stereotypes suggest. Relocation can mean difficulties in getting to work, or getting children to school. It can also mean disturbance to patterns of kinship and care which are so vital to the well-being of people in fragile economic positions.

The three-country project team brings together anthropological expertise on kinship and family, with researchers with backgrounds in law, planning and housing. In each city team members already have strong links both to affected communities and to the officials and policy-makers who have oversight of urban development. 

Principal Investigator: Professor Jonathan Spencer, University of Edinburgh

Co-Investigator: Dr Ammara Maqsood, University of Oxford

Project part of

Cities & Infrastructure

The Cities & Infrastructure Programme funds interdisciplinary research projects that address the challenge of creating and maintaining sustainable and resilient cities, with the aim of informing relevant policies and interventions in developing countries.

International

We foster international collaboration in the humanities and social sciences, and promote the sharing of international perspectives on global challenges.

Other projects in this programme

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