Changing Places: inequality and integration – University of Copenhagen

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Changing Places: Inequality and Integration


Chaired by Cecila Milwertz and Nicol Foulkes Savinetti, NIAS, University of Copenhagen.

18 June

Changing Places: Inequality and Integration

Room: 35.3.12

13:15-15:15

Andrea Wright, Brown University

Northeast Migrants, Discrimination, and Community Building in Bangalore, India

Ramy Bulan, University of Malaya

Transition and Disruption in Asia - Disruption of communal Indigenous  territorial  domains in the struggle for power and transition into a monetary economy: A Tumultuous Journey

Lai Sze Tso, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Transcending Geographic Barriers via Technology in Urban China: Understanding how young migrant women use cell phones, internet bars, and online chat rooms to improve personal social integration and health outcomes before the age of the Smartphone

Abhinav Alakshendra, University of Florida

Urban Informality and Changing Cities: A Case study from Patna, India

Abstracts

1.
Andrea Wright, PhD Candidate- Anthropology, Brown University

Northeast Migrants, Discrimination, and Community Building in Bangalore, India
Women (and men) from the Northeast region of India (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura) are heavily desired and recruited for positions in the hospitality, retail, and service industries in mainland India. This paper focuses on the employment of female migrants as intimate laborers in beauty parlors, salons, and spas in the South Indian city of Bangalore by examining the factors that drive these women’s migration, and their experiences as migrants, beauty-therapy trainees, and laborers, I explore the underlying political, racial, and economic aspects of mobility and livelihood in contemporary India. By intentionally beginning with a description of the Tangkhul Student Union Bangalore’s[1] Freshers’ event, I introduce the role that tribal community organizations play in supporting and policing local migrant communities. While the Freshers’ event does serve as an orientation of sorts, it is generally an introduction of newly arrived migrants preceded and followed by religious advice on how to maintain a Christian life and belief system and continue to support their family while far away from home.

In addition to homemaking, these organizations provide scaffolding for migrants to remain on a moral and respectable path. As young migrants, outside of their hometowns and states, they are at risk of being corrupted in Bangalore.  This corruption is often articulated in the language of morality, when youth excessively drink, party, do drugs, or have live-in intimate relationships. These risks and possibilities of corruption, however, signal more than just moral decay. They signal a break in the migrant’s ability to productively contribute to their family members and community back home.  Consequently, this paper explores the ways that young migrants, who are most concerned about the nuts and bolts of daily life in Bangalore, navigate the space between racial discrimination and violence from Bangalore locals and moral policing, judgment, and punishment from their own migrant tribal community members.


[1] There are over 30 tribal community organizations in Bangalore[1] representing individuals from the 8 Northeastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura).  Many of these organizations are labeled as student unions, although this term is a misnomer since the members are both working professionals and students. Very few communities have separate organizations for students and laborers and the breakdown of students to workers differs substantially by community and state, mostly depending on socioeconomic status of their community back home.

2.
Ramy Bulan,
PhD, Centre For Legal Pluralism and Indigenous Law, Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur

Transition and Disruption in Asia - Disruption of communal Indigenous  territorial  domains in the struggle for power and transition into a monetary economy: A Tumultuous Journey
Conflicts over forests, lands and natural resources have impacted many communities in Asia, especially the indigenous and local communities. Tensions and conflicts have become a pattern of conflict mostly between indigenous communities and the state and / or its corporate partners, embodying struggles over power, place and money and a disruption of traditional communal life that has been the hall mark of these communities.  In Malaysia,  a  recent landmark Federal Court decision in Director of Forest v TR Sandah (December 2016) brought this into sharp focus, escalating tensions over collective interests and claims to customary communal lands. The apex court declared that the native (Iban) customs of territorial domains which they call pemakai menoa (territorial “land to eat from” belonging to a community) and pulau (forest reserve within the communal territory), do not have "force of law" because those terms are not codified or contained in any written law. This is hotly contested and has social, economic and political repercussions. It also involves issues of violation of human rights, cultural rights and discourses on legal pluralism. Limited legislative recognition of customary rights under the legislation, namely, Sarawak Land Code, impinges on access to lands and resources for livelihood, food security, cultural integrity and right to life. This leaves communities vulnerable to exploitation by the powerful entities interested in extraction of natural resources from the land they consider "unowned".

This paper examines the jurisprudential basis of indigenous people’s collective rights and the concept of territory; and explores the perplexing relationship between law and customs within pluralistic discourses over land and natural resources. These kinds of tensions occur in much of the countries of South- east Asia. It touches on the concept of the commons, which is alien to much of the written laws based on registration of title.  Drawing from common international jurisprudence on indigenous peoples rights, it highlights the role of indigenous legal traditions and practices that connect the natives to the territories that they claim, and exposes the disruptions in communities in the transition from a subsistence to the government’s modernisation of their economies. It clarifies the critical place of indigenous governance, and validity of indigenous legal traditions, in the face of powerful third party encroachments in the face of plantation magnates and other extractive industries.

3.
Lai Sze Tso
, Postdoctoral Associate, Global Health and Medical Humanities Initiative, Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Transcending Geographic Barriers via Technology in Urban China: Understanding how young migrant women use cell phones, internet bars, and online chat rooms to improve personal social integration and health outcomes before the age of the Smartphone
In China, people from rural areas have fewer resources compared to their urban counterparts. While the advent of smartphones and internet-accessible mobile devices is visibly revolutionizing the ways that urbanites conduct their social and economic interactions, allowing people living in China’s booming cities to feel integrated and connected to the world beyond China’s geographic borders, the introduction of this technology as achievable reality occurred in disrupted phases for the rural populace. Although technology transfer and modernization initiatives have been commonplace in urban centers since the establishment of Special Economic Zones, the ways in which rural residents have overcome economic and structural barriers to successfully acquire new technological knowledge remains understudied. Furthermore, despite having limited access to resources, women migrants and their families are still able to develop aspirations based on their assessments of the emerging opportunities offered in urban and suburban China via an increasing pervasiveness of globalization and a market dynamics in regional economies.

This paper seeks to identify the mechanisms and factors that facilitated young women and their families in circumnavigating high rural-urban barriers to achieve social and economic goals in acquiring social norms for upward mobility and market consumerism. I address this gap in our conception using data from ethnographic field work of an affluent rural village of 800 households and in-depth interviews with 42 young women preparing for rural to urban migration in China from 2008-2009. A better understanding of these processes can inform models on pathways of technology transfer and knowledge diffusion at individual-level interactions and group-level networks in settings characterized by low-resources and high barriers to entry.

4.
Abhinav Alakshendra
, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida

Urban Informality and Changing Cities: A Case study from Patna, India
Urban dwellers in India represents about one-third of the total population of the country. As per Census 2011, there are 53 urban agglomerations in India with a population of a million or more, a rise of 50% in 10 years. This unprecedented pace of urbanization has caught India unprepared and has resulted in mostly unplanned growth. Mass migration from rural areas due to a loss of productivity in agriculture has caused a huge expansion of informal settlements in cities. In India, informal settlements or slums are defined as densely populated residential areas with dwellings unfit for habitation. Slums often lack basic services such as electricity, sanitation, drinking
water, etc. Slum population in India has risen between 2001 and 2011 from 53 million to 65 million and expected to cross 100 million by 2020 mostly due to massive rural-urban migration. Slum dwellers move to cities in the hope of better socio-economic outcome and mostly to come out of the poverty. This belief is consistent with the ‘modernization theory’ of slums which describes slums as a transient
phase of growing economy as economic growth eventually helps slum dwellers to move into formal settlements (Glaeser 2011; Turner 1969). As per the city development plan (2010-2030), Patna has 108 slums, though latest estimates (2015-2016) show more than 125 slums in the city. The state government has put forward a slum policy which aims to provide basic facilities in selected slums in Patna.

This research undertakes the dual task of testing a theory and evaluating the outcome of slum policy for urban poor. This paper tests the ‘modernization theory’ using primary data on socio-economic outcomes of 225 slum households (1100 individuals) in Patna, Bihar. Patna is the capital of Bihar which is the least urbanized state in India (just 11% urbanization against 31% for all India), although it has the highest density of population in the country along with the population growth rate. Bihar is also one of the poorest states in the country but it has managed to achieve double digit growth since 2004-05. Mass migration, acute poverty, and consistent high but unplanned growth in Bihar presents a natural experiment to test the ‘modernization theory’ and as well to undertake an evaluation of
policies implemented in last 10 years.

This research focuses on the slums in Tier 2 cities, most of the previous research on slums has focused on Tier 1 cities with little or no discussion on small and medium cities. Understanding the effectiveness of policies aimed at informal settlements will help planners, policy makers, and civil society to formulate and implement appropriate policies for urban poor to achieve more inclusive and sustainable cities for migrants living in slums and other urban poor.

References
• Glaeser, E. (2011). Triumph of the city: How our greatest inventions makes us richer,
smarter, greener, healthier, and happier. New York, NY: Penguin Press.
• Patna city development plan (2010-2030). Government of Bihar
• Turner, J. (1969). “Uncontrolled urban settlement: Problems and Policies.” In the city
in newly developing countries: Readings on urbanism and urbanization, edited by
Gerald William Breese, 507-534, Englewood, Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.