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Uncivil City
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Uncivil City
Ecology, Equity and the Commons in Delhi

First Edition


March 2020 | 300 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd
As cities become habitat for most of humanity, the question of their ecological capacity to sustain lives worth living becomes ever more critical. Yet, when we listen to debates about city planning and governance, and observe urban environmental campaigns on the ground, we notice that they have little to do with ecology or justice. To examine this contradiction, Uncivil City: Ecology, Equity and the Commons in Delhi looks at two decades of environmental politics in Delhi—across homes and workplaces, ordinary streets and extraordinary spectacles, and the river and the Ridge. It argues that the terms of the discourse—what is an environmental issue, who is authorised to speak, and which modes of action count as legitimate—are partial, particularistic and perverse. ‘Bourgeois environmentalists’, who claim to speak in the public interest, for nature and society, have made the city what it is: unfair and unliveable. Only citizenship and civility will save the commons—air, water, space and trees—upon which cities depend for survival.

 
 
Publisher’s Acknowledgements
 
Acknowledgements
 
Introduction: An Uncivil City
 
Part I: Remaking Landscapes and Lives
 
Making Plans and Places
 
Sealing Factories and Fates
 
Playing Games
 
Part II: Contesting the Commons
 
Cows, Cars and Cycle-Rickshaws
 
The River
 
The Ridge
 
Part III: Conclusion and Coda
 
City Limits and Beyond
 
Climate Change, Uncertainty and the City
 
Glossary
 
Bibliography
 
Index

“Although published shortly before the arrival of COVID-19 in India, Baviskar’s thesis nonetheless echoes the events unfolding in the capital, and across urban India today…. The vision of Delhi to which Uncivil City is committed emerges from a radial sense of possibility to conceive new, collective futures.”

Himal Southasian, 25 May 2020

“Connected by a timely introduction and concluding chapter, the book makes for relevant and sobering pandemic reading… Ethnographic writing in India has come a long way from M.N. Srinivas’s orderly and tranquil prose. This work exemplifies this shift.” 

The Telegraph, 18 September 2020

“Her attention to the details of climate change, and how we look at the river Yamuna and the lives of the people who live by its sides is a masterly discourse. Amita uses a spare but interesting prose which occasionally turns chatty, but only to introduce us to an anthropologist’s sense of being part of the picture.” 

The Book Review, September 2020

“Uncivil City is more than an academic tract. It is an elegy for Delhi… That is what makes the book tactile, relatable, and engaged.”

Biblio, October – December 2020

“The power of this collection lies in the evocative writing that often resembles a travelogue… the richness of this collection… contributes to an abundance of fascinating works on the changes in Delhi in the last ten years.”

La Vie des Idées, 18 February 2021

“One of the first things that strikes one about the book is its’ readability… There are important things in this book for all of us to think about.”

Landscape, Issue 62

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