The Persistence of Peenya: Examining Industrial Space in ‘Global’ Bangalore

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Since 1991, India’s IT City- Bangalore- has witnessed a stunning re-development through the political hegemony operated by real estate and Information Technology (IT). The global city literature has shown systemically how such real estate re-development and urban de-industrialization has been at the heart of neoliberal transformation across urban economies. Through its roots in a global conjuncture of the 1980’s characterized by flexible accumulation, a new international division of labor, and ideas of ‘post-industrial’ cities, this literature helped identify critical elements of the urban neoliberal turn while producing particular knowledge gaps. Thus, I ask- what processes, practices, spaces, and peoples become invisible to us when we center urban gentrification as the universal and necessary outcome of neoliberal transformation? One such blind spot in the literature is the persistence of industrial space within global cities that can be seen, through the global city lens, only as a relic or a space in transition. This neglect of the continued, albeit limited, persistence of industrial space within a theoretical conception of a global city, I argue, hinders our ability to recognize a key element of Bangalore’s neoliberal turn. The persistence of the Peenya Industrial area in North Bangalore- even today one of the largest industrial areas in South Asia- reflects, I argue, the negotiated, partial, and uneven character of the neoliberal urban project. Drawing on Bangalore’s rich industrial history- a city that emerged as India’s public sector enterprise capital in the 80’s- Peenya has charted a path of difference while remaining relationally connected to the neoliberal transformation of Bangalore. Yet, how does one explain the persistence of such vast industrial space within the core of ‘global’ Bangalore? Through ethnographic interviews with government officials, real estate developers, and small-scale industrialists and drawing on Lefebvre’s conception of the production of space, I argue that Peenya’s exclusion from urban re-development is best understood in terms of a failure of the spatial imagination to see the region as anything but industrial. The durability of spatial imaginaries provides an inroad to understanding a key obstacle in the path of real estate capital’s re-development of the contemporary city.
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56 pages
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Union Local
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Makki, Fouad M.
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Leonard, Lori
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Development Sociology
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M.S., Development Sociology
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Master of Science
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dissertation or thesis
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