Who are the millions of workers behind the aggressive urban metamorphosis of India in the twenty-first century? How are lives of those who construct architecture and urban areas entangled with the planning and development of the regions they build? Namita Vijay Dharia presents a cross-class ethnography of architects, planners, contractors, foremen, workers, and developers in India’s National Capital Region. She argues that an ephemeral atmospheric condition governs the workings of the construction industry: Ephemeral atmospheres (created through the transformation of materials and circulations of people) are not epiphenomenal to industrial operations; rather, they undergird labor politics, planning and financial systems, and operating strategies in construction. The personal histories and experiences of India’s Muslim and non-dominant caste workers reveal the politics of labor and class hierarchies in design industries and challenge canonical ways of reading architecture. Worker critiques of the industry force architects to visualize a class-equitable profession that acknowledges the labor and creativity of all those who build. The talk is based on fifteen months of ethnographic research in NCR.
This event is part of the State of Architecture in South Asia initiative.