(2019) Becoming ‘ghosts’: recalling the impact of urban change on the lived experience of multiculture. Ethnic & Racial Studies, 42 (3): 387-394.
This review focuses on the contributions of Neal et al.’s book Lived Experiences of Multiculture. I examine their focus on the implications of place in encounter, and their reference to the importance of competencies and reflexivity. While much has been written on these fields, their granular ethnography reveals points of conviviality in the grounded socio-spatial relations of diversity in sites that blur the boundaries between public and private: parks, chain cafes, leisure groups, and schools. However, while spaces of hopeful encounter clearly exist, the complexity and pain of these processes and the power relations that underpin them, particularly under conditions of urban transformation, require further exploration. Therefore, I would argue for an extension of this work to incorporate an account of belonging that allows for the impacts of urban transformation, the power relations inherent in these processes, the need for more interdisciplinary engagement in the field of intercultural competence, and the need to ensure our analysis of diversity and encounter does not stray too far from a focus on conflict.
(2019) ‘Sir, it was my right of way!’ Examining cultural change and the contested entitlements of automobility. Mobilities. DOI: 10.1080/17450101.2019.1635337
This qualitative study uses a frame of entitlements to explore how automobility reflects the complex tensions of cultural change, including shifting privileges within gendered and classed social relations. Through documenting the mobility of a cohort of middle-class women in Delhi, three regimes of entitlement are identified within the city’s ‘landscape[s] of power’ (Bagheri 2017): the car and its impact on the built environment; the constraints of gendered expectations; and middle class entitlement within a neo-liberal city. The findings highlight the capacity of competing entitlements to structure and contest cultural change, as well as the importance of contextualising mobility theory.
New research publication from the SING:E project:
Reflecting wider debates on the city as a site of coercion and opportunity, Delhi is marked by the coordinates of both cultural nationalism and neo-liberal aspiration. The former positions the city as a site of cultural pollution, at times claiming ‘western lifestyles’ have contributed to gendered assault. In juxtaposition, Delhi’s neo-liberal landscape positions the female body as a valued commodity, iconic of ‘globalised living’, embedded in discourses of autonomy and modernity. This article will argue that these entangled cultural constructs have created a city of threat and discomfort that problematizes women’s access, be it for livelihood or leisure, enclosing women within coordinates not of their making. Yet rather than acquiesce to this urban topology, the agency of the single, middle-aged, middle-class women in this ethnographic study extends our understanding of the agonistic relationships within urban space, and the capacity to negotiate them using practices of avoidance, deception, adaptation, defiance, and care, at times creating their own enclosures in the process that enabled access to the city. Age and class as well as gendered expectations impacted on the available resources and outcomes of these negotiations, revealing the diverse possibilities of urban living that can enable pockets of social and political flourishing even within a difficult city.