IDRF program associate Isha Tendolkar talks with IDRF fellow Sohini Chattopadhyay about her photo essay, her dissertation research, and the pandemic.
From Our Fellows
The SSRC has been providing funding to researchers at all stages of their academic and professional careers for more than 90 years. Through a highly competitive and rigorous peer-review process, the SSRC has awarded over 15,000 fellowships and grants to support research around the globe. From Our Fellows focuses on emerging research in the social sciences, including intersections with the humanities and natural sciences, by recipients of SSRC funding. The SSRC’s fellowships, grants, and prizes improve conditions for social science knowledge production worldwide.
Complicating the social theory that presumes increased urbanization means greater political progress and inclusion, Simeon J. Newman’s analysis of working-class political participation in twentieth-century Mexico City unveils how rapid urban concentration can lead to political clientelism. While many rural migrants to the city brought revolutionary ideals, these were stymied by their increased dependency on local leaders to mediate between poor urban dwellers and elected officials and government bureaucrats for services and land security.
The intertwined dynamics of urban “revitalization” and the displacement and destabilization of African Americans in US cities is not a phenomenon new to twenty-first century New York City. Amanda Boston’s examination of the “redevelopment” of Downtown Brooklyn exposes the changing roles of government and the market in the erasure and destabilization of long-standing communities of color. As municipal government has moved from market regulator to market facilitator—inviting the influx of global capital and gentrification into majority-minority neighborhoods—the impact on the space has benefited the affluent (often white) residents and consumers of the city to the detriment of minority communities. A consideration of the construction of the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn provides a close-to-home lens on the role of race and profit in the organization of urban space.
In the name of urban growth Mexico City officials have approved “self-devouring” infrastructure projects, displacing and endangering residents and threatening the city’s very survival. For the “Layered Metropolis” series, Dean Chahim examines how the El Ángulo dam exposes the dangerous dynamic of a weakened state confronting (or not confronting) the forces of mobile global capitalism. While Chahim’s research is grounded in the specific history and realities of Mexico City’s complex drainage system, his analysis reveals much more general contours of the potentially lethal relationship between the pressures of global capital interests and development in dense urban spaces.
In the slum settlements of India, individual slum leaders, acting as party workers, play dynamic roles that connect local residents to national political parties. This local leadership aids residents in making demands for public services, and also mobilizes votes, but it also means there are great disparities in the level of local services and development. In this essay for our “Layered Metropolis” series, based on his book Demanding Development: The Politics of Public Good Provision in India’s Urban Slums, Adam Auerbach examines the work of local leaders and party networks in two north Indian cities to understand this phenomenon.