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New Urban Utopias of Postcolonial India: Entrepreneurial urbanization in Dholera smart city, Gujarat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-22
JournalDialogues in Human Geography
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
E-pub ahead of print15 Mar 2015

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Abstract

Smart cities are now arguably the new urban utopias of the 21st century. Integrating urban and digital planning, smart cities are being marketed across the world as solutions to the challenges of urbanization and sustainable development. In India, in particular, there has been a move towards building 100 new smart cities in the future in order to spur economic growth and urbanization. Using the case of Dholera, the first Indian smart city, I examine how global models of smart cities are provincialized in the regional state of Gujarat through local histories, politics and laws. First, I argue that Dholera smart city is part of a longer genealogy of utopian urban planning that emerged as a response to the challenges of development and modernity in post-independent India. Second, that Dholera highlights a shift towards an ‘entrepreneurial urbanization’ in a regional state interested in scaling up a ‘Gujarat model of development’ for emulation at the scale of the nation. Finally, that in Dholera ‘speed’ is a relative term across its scales of manifestation from the global to local, where short ‘bursts of speed’ in conceptualization and investment is matched by significant ‘bottlenecks’ via local protests. The article concludes that Dholera’s fault lines are built into its utopian imaginings, which prioritizes urbanization as a business model rather than a model of social justice.

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