Friday 11 December
3 to 5 pm
Yaha Phaltu Bethna Mana Hai (Idling here is prohibited): On Planning and Storytelling
Set against the backdrop of three phenomena: the communicative turn in planning theory and practice; the increased use of governmental forms of knowledge and objects in governance; and the ongoing reification of Mumbai’s slums into land with developmental value under city’s neoliberal housing policies, this paper draws on the work of Walter Benjamin and Sadat Hasan Manto (an Urdu short story writer) to explore the relationship between planning and storytelling in a slum locality called Toba Tek Nagar in Mumbai, India. Through an ethnographic study of common spaces such as teashops, bureaucratic offices, Human Rights offices and Mosques, I show how slum residents use storytelling as an allegorical device to not just reveal the arbitrariness of neoliberal reason but also share cunning tricks to outwit it. In doing so, my aim, as a planner-researcher, is to document storytelling publics in slum localities and challenge the partition between expertise of planning and the art of storytelling.
Prasad Khanolkar is a PhD student in Planning and South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto, and a member of Collective Research Initiatives Trust (CRIT), Mumbai. This paper is a part of his doctoral research titled: Slums as Urban Constellations: Tales from Toba Tek Nagar, Mumbai, which explores the relationship between aesthetics of slums and politics of urban planning.