“Situated Ethics of the City: Narrating Corruption and Land in Contemporary Urban India” by Dr. Malini Ranganathan, Lecture Hall, NIAS, 1800hrs


National Institute of Advanced Studies

Urban and Mobility Studies Programme 


Invites you to a Public Lecture Series entitled

City at its Limits


The Second lecture will be delivered by


 Dr. Malini Ranganathan

Assistant Professor, School of International Service

American University, Washington D.C.




 Situated Ethics of the City: Narrating Corruption

and Land in Contemporary Urban India


Chairperson: Prof. Carol Upadhya, NIAS


Date:               Friday, 2nd February 2018

Time:               6:00 PM (Coffee/Tea at 5.30 PM)

Venue:             Lecture Hall, NIAS


Abstract:   Since the publication of AT Ramaswamy’s Report exposing the magnitude of “land grabs” by powerful vested interests, activists have emerged to contest corrupt and irregular processes in Bangalore’s real estate, wetlands/lakes, and land via both direct action and the courts. Reflecting on over a decade of ethnographic engagement in peripheral Bangalore, and drawing from recent fieldwork, this talk analyzes the politics and ethics of land in contemporary urban India. It argues that today’s activist discourse differentiates between the everyday “encroachments” of the poor and lower middle class (as seen, for instance, by flood-prone revenue layouts and slums) and the “land grabs” of the globally connected elite for private profit (as seen by high-rises and malls). The former is seen as the only recourse for housing and livelihood, and thus not inherently wrong, while the latter is increasingly being narrated as wrongful, corrupt, and wealth-extracting—indeed, the very root of heightening inequality in urban India. The concept of “situated ethics” helps us to understand how activists subjectively navigate the terrain of law, morality, and justice in the contemporary Indian city, and the possibilities and limits therein. Ultimately, this talk argues that rather than an objective set of practices, “corruption” offers a shifting and contradictory language for assessing spatial transformation.


About the Speaker: Dr. Malini Ranganathan is Assistant Professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC. Her research focuses on the relationship between urban housing, land, and water infrastructures, as well as struggles for environmental and social justice in India and the US. She is a 2017-2019 co-recipient of an American Council of Learned Societies-Andrew W Mellon Foundation grant titled “Corruption Plots, Imagined Publics: The Ethics of Space in the Millennial City”.


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All are cordially invited


For further information, please contact. Dr. Hemangini Gupta <NIASurban@gmail.com>

Friday, February 2, 2018