"Thrown into the Jungle" – Experiences of Displacement and Disruption in Neoliberal India
This paper examines narratives of socio-spatial exclusion and marginalization in order to understand how resettled people construct and conceive their place in a world-class city. Drawing from ethnographic research in a multi-ethnic resettlement site located in eastern Ahmedabad, the paper explores how residents structure their relationship with the government and with each other using 'metaphors of marginalization' (Ramakrishnan 2014) and 'metaphors of difference'. Metaphors of marginalization – including those of 'dirt', 'jungle' and 'thrown away' – convey shared feelings of exclusion caused by displacement, while metaphors of difference – such as 'Pakistan', 'harami' and 'third class citizen' – are deployed to reproduce caste-based and religious divisions and to express moral superiority over new, unwanted neighbors. The paper takes a critical stance toward the local government's resettlement policy, arguing that lumping disparate populations together in 'plebeianized' (Chatterjee 2014) spaces has intensified the urban poors' experiences of marginalization, exclusion and uncertainty.