Politics in the Informalizing Metropolis: Displacement, Resettlement and Unstable Negotiations in Uncivil Ahmedabad


This article documents the displacement of Baoris, an adivasi (indigenous) community living in the city of Ahmedabad, India, and their subsequent resettlement along the city’s precarious urban–rural frontier. I argue that this process signals the informalization of rights and territories, representing a political regime of governing in the remaking of the contemporary Indian metropolis. Recent actions taken by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to evict Baoris from the inner city are situated within the entangled processes and politics of urban restructuring, liberalization and Hindu nationalism. The absence and erosion of democratic protections, however, has not precluded the possibility of political negotiations with the local agents of state and capital, and this article assesses the tactics that community residents have deployed in their bid to maintain claims to territory, labour and services. I end by tempering enthusiasm for the informalizing city as a site for realizing alternative forms of justice and possible democratization.