Selected Entries 2018

Understanding the ‘Place’ in ‘Displacement’

Ipshita Karmakar
K.R.V.I.A | Mumbai

The project aims to understand methodology in order to enable the riot displaced community of Ahmedabad and reintegrate them into the society, and creating a similar methodology for other cases of displacement. It attempts to do so by understanding what constitutes a place and what makes a place ‘home’. In the process of displacement, the notion of what constitutes a ‘home’ is lost in the process of creating ‘shelters’.

David Harvey argues in his essay ‘From space to place and back again’, “Places exist somewhere between the universal and the particular in a global network of historical-geographical difference.[i]  Space, on the other hand, is abstract and wholly constructed by capital.” The notion of a place can range from the utopian idea of the genius loci or the spirit of the place, but places of today are created by a value addition of the land, in monetary terms. The reason why certain institutions and people are marginalised and denied the basic amenities is that they do not contribute to the creation of capital and are therefore deemed unnecessary to the functioning of the city. It is therefore necessary to look into what can construct a place for the marginalised displaced, which is torn between the complexities of a developing city and the need to find their genius loci.

Ahmedabad and its displacement due to riots of 2002 draws attention. The riots of 2002 transformed the city into a polarised landscape which refused to acknowledge the bristling communal violence with a blanket policy of indifference.

Prior to 2002, the resident was a consumer, a user of public infrastructure that allowed for interactions within and with the city. Since 2002, as evidenced by Citizen Nagar and various other resettlement sites, the resident has become a marginalised occupier of low value areas, where the sites are placed in close conjunction with dump yards and waste water areas. The city imagines these sites as wastelands, and the new residents as the keepers of waste. In such a situation, it becomes essential to change the stigma that is associated with these areas to allow for the reintegration of the displaced. The attempt will be through rethinking the idea of waste itself from refuse to renewal.

Citizen Nagar is chosen as the first site for development. The landfills at Citizen Nagar consist of 1500 mt of waste, with 350 mt being generated every day.The area admeasures 56 hectares in total with the landfill and the housing of only Citizen Nagar admeasures 15 hectares. An exploration of an institutional framework for the area that allows for the development of social welfare programs under the umbrella of these state run waste infrastructure is carried out. The project aims to achieve an inclusive method of creating institutions and infrastructure for the displaced while trying to preserve their collective memories and their sense of place. The project imagines a future where the perception of landfills changes completely to a public institution that recharges the city, purifies the land which it occupies, adds to the natural ecosystem, and becomes one of the most essential infrastructures that the city produces and requires. The project aims to do so by generating a self-sustaining masterplan for the neighbourhood that intertwines the economic and social needs of the displaced with the existing institutions in the area by charting a phase wise development plan that allows for a new ‘place’ that is permanent, legitimate and a monument for the displaced.