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Spatial Segregation, Real Estate Markets and the Political Economy of Corruption in Lucknow, India

Raphael Susewind

Journal of South Asian Development, 2015, vol. 10, issue 3, 267-291

Abstract: A number of scholars have argued that discrimination against Muslims in India’s urban housing markets stems from long histories of Hindu–Muslim ‘communal’ violence, and that the resulting antagonism and discrimination against Muslim tenants and homebuyers leads to their permanent ‘ghettoization’. In such accounts, the state is portrayed as absent and unable to provide ethnic minorities with a sense of security, so that disenfranchised Muslims seek out the ‘safety in numbers’ of segregated and often traditional neighbourhoods, even when urban housing markets provide updated and modern accommodation elsewhere. Based on official property registration data and ethnographic fieldwork in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, I complicate this narrative, focusing on the productive practices of networking and collusion that enable a veritable building boom in ‘traditional’ Muslim neighbourhoods. The article shows that proximity to bureaucrats, the relative electoral strength of Muslims, and the existence of waqf property result in lower expenses for corruption and thus higher profit margins for Muslim developers in traditional Muslim areas. Irrespective of discrimination elsewhere, this arguably creates positive incentives for Muslims to stay put, and thus demonstrates that their continued segregation does not necessarily indicate blanket disenfranchisement—but rather a differential incorporation in the political economy of collusion.

Keywords: Segregation; Muslims; India; real estate; urban housing; corruption; local state (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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