Ranabir Samaddar's Blog

Zones and Corridors

Ranabir Samaddar October 15, 2012


Accumulation in Post-Colonial Capitalism

There is another way to think of the practice of zoning besides as one of exception in space management. Of course a crucial question is to be faced at the outset: Is the question of exception a matter of looking into the production of norm and then looking at the dynamics of exception, or is exception finally a matter of difference? Here I would like to leave the matter to the reader’s or the listener’s philosophical disposition; it will not harm much whichever way the judgement goes, so long as we know what is at stake.

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The Social Factory: Production of the New Town

Ranabir Samaddar June 14, 2012

Katie Hepworth

Ranabir Samaddar

The way a new town was planned for Rajarhat indicates the evolution of governmental techniques. It was not initiated as a technology park, but as one by the Housing Department. Planning is essential for all such partitions and reorganisation of spaces. In all of the cases I narrate here one can see that the agenda of physical planners goes against the logic of the old space marked by ‘integrated’ cities and outlying villages. It seeks to reverse the earlier territorial division and specialisation. If there is an opening up of space, there is a new closure too, whereby all sub-(advanced) economic entities have to be subordinated to the newly emerging hi-tech space. Planning in this sense does not mean, as usually thought, direct state control of commanding economic activities, but it means guiding the latter to the pre-determined goal. New towns are thus planned not by entrepreneurs, but by governmental bodies. The aims are: to open cities to world economy, to synchronise urban economy with macro-economic reforms, to close or scale down the old manufacturing base of the city, to make the city a centre of tradable services such as health care, education, new skill formation, etc., to make the city a servicing centre in the interest of finance, trade, hospitality, culture, health care, data processing and programming. The old idea of national economic development takes a back seat.

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Rajarhat, the Urban Dystopia

Ranabir Samaddar July 29, 2011

Ned Rossiter

Ranabir Samaddar


Kolkata has changed quite a lot in the last few decades. It wants to become Delhi. It must catch up with the flash and glitz found elsewhere. It too must have its high-tech township and must embody a new mode of circulation of money, information, human resources, and power. It does not think that its old organic character is worth retaining. If discarding the old organic character is the necessary sacrifice to make in order to develop, let that be. If road space increases while the space for human interaction decreases, that price Kolkata must pay. Likewise parallel journals have lost their edge, parallel theatre has lost audience, the river line earlier dotted with old storehouses has changed, and tram cars carry only the distant memories of a city criss-crossed with tramlines and streetcars. Old urban resources have wasted in a state of neglect. In this change of guards, something new is happening. As a product of this developmental imagination Rajarhat is coming up beyond Kolkata.

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