Sheetal Chhabria | Making the Modern Slum

Sheetal Chhabria | Making the Modern Slum

   ,
  9 - 10:30 a.m.
   Zoom (Off Campus)
Sheetal Chhabria, Sai Balakrishnan

A talk by Associate Professor of History, Connecticut College, Sheetal Chhabria on her new book, Making the Modern Slum: the Power of Capital in Colonial Bombay (University of Washington Press 2019, Global South Asia Series), that shows how the wellbeing of the city–rather than of its people–became an increasingly urgent goal of government, positioning agrarian distress, famished migrants, and the laboring poor as threats to be contained or excluded.
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DATE: Monday, April 19, 2021

TIME: 9am Berkeley | 12 noon New York | 4pm London | 9pm Lahore | 9:30pm Delhi | Calculate Your Local Time

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This event will also be live streamed on the Institute's FB page: ISASatUCBerkeley
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About Making the Modern Slum: the Power of Capital in Colonial Bombay
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Bombay was beset by crises such as famine and plague. Yet, rather than halting the flow of capital, these crises served to secure it. In colonial Bombay, capitalists and governors, Indian and British alike, used moments of crisis to justify interventions that delimited the city as a distinct object and progressively excluded laborers and migrants from it. Town planners, financiers, and property developers joined forces to secure the city as a space for commerce and encoded shelter types as legitimate or illegitimate. By the early twentieth century, the slum emerged as a particularly useful category of stigmatization that would animate city-making projects in subsequent decades.

Sheetal Chhabria locates the origins of Bombay’s now infamous “slum problem” in the broader histories of colonialism and capitalism. She not only challenges assumptions about colonial urbanization and cities in the global south, but also provides a new analytical approach to urban history. Making the Modern Slum shows how the wellbeing of the city–rather than of its people–became an increasingly urgent goal of government, positioning agrarian distress, famished migrants, and the laboring poor as threats to be contained or excluded.

About the Speaker
Sheetal Chhabria (Ph.D. Columbia University) is a historian of South Asia with interests in the global histories of capitalism, urban studies, and the production of poverty and inequality. Her research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and the American Historical Association.

Broadly, her research and teaching challenge the comparative claims that have been made about colonial spaces and their legibility in discourses of modernization or development. Each of her courses foregrounds issues of power in crafting historical narratives across time and space.

Her first book, Making the Modern Slum: the Power of Capital in Colonial Bombay (University of Washington Press 2019, Global South Asia Series), shows how the wellbeing of the city–rather than of its people–became an increasingly urgent goal of government, positioning agrarian distress, famished migrants, and the laboring poor as threats to be contained or excluded. Other publications have analyzed the politics of indigeneity, colonial knowledge, and the production of the economy as social scientific fact.

Her current research entails analyzing the imbrications of caste and capital in the subcontinent’s long history and the failures of decolonization.

Prior to joining Connecticut College’s history department, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Historical Analysis at Rutgers University.

More about Prof. Chhabria HERE.
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The event is FREE and OPEN to the public.