Presenter: Fatima Tassadiq, PhD Candidate, Anthropology
Discussant: Francesca Ammon, Associate Professor, City and Regional Planning and Historic Preservation
The construction of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) in Lahore, Pakistan seized national headlines in 2014 due to the impending demolition of some of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, subsequent displacement of thousands of citizens, and potential damage to national heritage sites. Since 2017, I have conducted ethnographic research at Kapoorthala House, a middle to low income neighborhood that was partially razed to construct a train station and a section of the train line. My dissertation takes the construction of the metro train line to study the role of urban infrastructural development and associated spatial conflicts in the constitution of democratic citizenship and the postcolonial city. This talk centers on the urbicidal violence effected by the construction of the train line at the conjuncture of colonial era laws, neoliberal reforms, and structural impoverishment. I follow the lives of families displaced from the neighborhood to identify how land dispossession intersected with family dynamics and kinship ties to mediate the affective and socio-economic experience of eviction. I also track the disruption in the lives of remaining residents in Kapoorthala House as they witnessed the breakdown of their close knit community, and grappled with health and safety hazards caused by construction work that stretched over several years. I thus attend to the various temporal and spatial scales of ruination visited on people by the urbicide of capitalist development to show how decades of carefully albeit precariously accumulated rights and resources were reversed. Ultimately I seek to visibilize the relationship between infrastructural development and socio-spatial destruction.