Rethinking Port Botany

Katie Hepworth June 20, 2012

Katie Hepworth

In their call to “Rethink the Port”, Stack and Olivier argue that transformations in the organisation of container transport and in container terminals, and the increasing role of logistics, mean that it is necessary to reconceptualise the port; instead of a unified, fixed and bounded entity it should instead be considered as a site that is captured in multiple corporate networks, which are typically more global than local in focus. These transformations mean, furthermore, that it may be necessary to shift scales and focus on the terminal rather than the port in order to study the organisation of containerised traffic globally and locally. To approach port operations from the point of view of the terminal means to pay attention to corporate networks, and the multiscalar relations that these engender. Although these networks are typically understood to operate globally, it is also important to consider how the terminalisation of the port has been accompanied by a regionalisation of port operations through the increasing reliance on intermodal terminals. The following maps draw on these arguments to focus on the local and regional logistical geographies that extend from Port Botany. Focusing on each of the corporations currently present at the port, they begin to suggest how the operations of the terminal may be dispersed through multiple sites in the city’s hinterland.

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The Context of Metropolitan Planning

Keya Dasgupta June 15, 2012

Giorgio Grappi

Keya Dasgupta


Kolkata is witnessing significant and rapid transformations in its organization of space, especially in its periphery; transformations which began over three or more decades ago. These developments have come about through both formal/organized and informal/unorganized interventions. The state, the developmental authorities, both local and global, constitutes the former, whereas private ventures of a different nature and scale constitute the latter. Such simultaneous efforts in the reorganisation of space have given rise to characteristics shaped by legality, illegality, formal, informal, governmental, private, public-private partnerships, acquisitions, transactions, etc. The coexistence of such diverse actors and actions is being reflected in significant changes within a short span of time. These are changes brought about in occupancy, in objectives, in forms, through the emergence of a ‘new’ form of governance characterised by new categories and new actors, with resultant displacements of the existing. It would be interesting to enquire whether such developments reflect a planning agenda, or have evolved in spite of any well-defined, well-integrated plan.

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Transition, an Empty Proposition?

Brett Neilson June 14, 2012

Giorgio Grappi

Brett Neilson and Sandro Mezzadra


Resistance to land grabs and accelerated urban expansion has been a hallmark of recent peasant struggles in West Bengal. One thinks of the conflicts that unfolded at Singur and Nandigram in 2006-2007 when peasant movements successfully blocked the West Bengal government’s acquisition of village and agricultural lands for the ‘public purpose’ of establishing an automobile factory in the first instance and a Special Economic Zone in the second. These struggles resounded loudly in Indian and West Bengali public life, igniting debates about primitive accumulation among Kolkata’s intellectual class and eventually contributing to the fall of the state’s longstanding Left Front government in May 2011. Elsewhere on Kolkata’s fringes, resistance to land acquisition has not been so successful. The huge area of land known as Rajarhat or New Town which sits to the city’s northeast is a barren monument to stalled peasant movements. Dotted by empty housing estates, shopping malls, special IT zones, ‘service villages’ inhabited by populations left without livelihoods, and vast stretches of arid land, Rajarhat is a site that has much to teach us about mobile styles of governing, transmutations of capital and labor, and the violent production of space that accompanies informational strategies of accumulation.

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‘Transit’ Labour in Mumbai City

Mouleshri Vyas June 14, 2012

Giorgio Grappi

Mouleshri Vyas


Migration into cities is a feature of many third world cities; its impact on the city and its people has a temporal, socio-cultural as well as economic dimension. The waves of migrants that enter a city space over the decades therefore find themselves absorbed or not absorbed in the avenues of work opportunities they seek. Those who join the ranks of the working poor in the city, struggle to find shelter or spaces, and make them habitable over several years. Over the years, the city expands outwards and within the city too, there are the more and less preferred spaces that begin to be occupied depending on the economic and social status of the settlers. The working poor in the informal sector set up shelters within shrinking and unaffordable spaces – in slum settlements, along railway tracks and even inside unused water pipelines; there is, in fact, a hierarchy of spaces that forms over a period of time with the poorer people in the least preferred spaces.

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