Becoming a city: Kochi in transformation

Mythri Prasad, Centre for Development Studies

Pharis Abubaker,a controversial businessman hailing from North Kerala,in a Television interview in 2007,quipped that Kerala,a Southern state in India, has no city and this has deterred business.The observation opened up for me a lot of questions about the spatiality of the state.The paper attempts to understand the transformation of Kochi ‘from a small town to a city'.Through this, I seek to critique previous conceptualizations of Kerala as ‘rururban’ or as a rural-urban continuum.The transformation relies significantly on the movements of global and local capital and migrant labour.The process of becoming a city is governed by material and discursive practices which also govern the movement of labour.Migrants contribute to the changing geography of the city.This geography is reflected in terms of the inequalities that etch the city space in terms of ghettoisation of migrants as well as in terms of the labour they contribute to build the city–skyscrapers,roads,flyovers and shopping malls.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Migration, environment and spatial demography