This week I am visiting the Centre for Policy Research to learn about their Cities of Delhi project and the politics, history, and morphology of urban villages in the National Capital Territory and neighboring Gurgaon. The trip is something of an urban village bootcamp, punctuated with visits to tourist sites and intense conversation.
One of the goals of the trip is to collaboratively rethink the history of the present. Three historical strands seem particularly important for defining the potential of and limits to this kind of comparative research. First, colonial legacies in Dehli and greater Hong Kong, highlighting the way that the modern world system redirected traditional regional economies. Second, respective national positioning during the Cold War and the internationalist hopes of the Third World project. Third, structural similarities in how mega-cities manage the inequalities that emerge and grow through rural urbanization, theorizing the ways in which states have continued to reproduce peasant classes within and despite the demise of rural areas and agriculture.