We are a collective of activists and scholars collaborating through our activism, research and pedagogic engagements to foster a culture of care and reflexive collegiality. Through this space we aim to foster a collective academic-activist praxis transcending our professional and disciplinary domains. We aim for this collective to empower us to process, reflect and respond to the conjunctural adversities and opportunities that define ourselves as well as contexts within which we work. We hope that this collective will enable us to persistently reflect on how our positionalities impact meaningful collaborations to challenge the entrenched coloniality in our existing disciplines and field.
In our work we aim to critically engage with the central theme of exclusion in cities of the global south through multiple perspectives. Through our collaborative research, discussions, teaching, advocacy we wish to learn and unlearn from each other’s work, reflect and develop deep and meaningful responses to the conditions that lead to exclusions and discrimination in the urban context.
Home is seen as an important site to shield in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Safety, security, and familiarity are the most referred positive attributes of a home. Alongside, the pandemic has compounded intersectional vulnerabilities of houseless populations as they were perceived as contaminators to the ‘housed’ public. Supported by grants from UCL, the Global Engagement Fund and DPU Internal Grant in this project we examine how Covid-19 restrictions impacted urban houseless in two specific ways. One, through archival research (on government orders, news articles) and ethnographic engagement with houseless populations the project examines how governance of the pandemic have pushed them towards ‘unsafety’, an embodied condition of social, economic, cultural, psychological and physical insecurity. Second, through series of virtual public dialogues, this project brings into conversation practitioners, such as NGOs, urban planners, activists, health experts, government officials, elected representatives, academics and lawyers, in the global South and global North to share lessons and develop strategies for addressing immediate insecurities of houseless populations. This action research aims to address urban marginalisation that was produced as an effect of imbibing inequitable notions of safety.
The presence of houseless groups in Indian cities is ubiquitous, yet there has been a tendency to invisibilize them in policy and planning. The urban houseless inhabit precarious urban conditions, yet they consider these spaces as their homes. Our collective aims to understand some of these paradoxes and challenge the dominant understanding of shelter, housing and home.
The relationship between houselessness and food insecurity is often less understood. The various lived experiences of houselessness indicate diverse practices of procuring, organising, storing and expenditure on food.
Houseless populations are vulnerable to a range of public risks. They often face punitive measures for accessing water and sanitation facilities. Providing water and sanitation has been identified as a key preventative measure to protect their health and wellbeing.
The precarious living conditions and scant access to basic services, affordable housing, adequate income, proper nutrition, basic health facilities have a crippling effect, especially on houseless children. Lack of access to basic medical services exacerbates their exposure to harmful physical and mental conditions.
While the houseless population contribute significantly to our economies, they are mostly daily wage earners and work in informal arrangements. Their work settings lay outside the safety nets and financial aids, with no support on livelihood resilience. Moreover, urban planning and policy disregard their livelihood needs when intervening around housing and often rehabilitate them in spaces that are not sensitive to their work.
Houselessness not only deprives individuals of their rights to food, water and shelter but also safety and dignity. Their rendered invisibility precludes them from accessing their constitutional rights to social programmes, and subjects them to various kinds of mistreatment from the wider city.
The houseless are disproportionately affected by the immediate impact and the aftermath of any crisis. Most often, inadequate information about the houseless population and its multi-dimensional socio-economic vulnerabilities is also a contributing factor.
The second event of the ‘(Post)Pandemic Planning in the South(s)’ centres around questions of housing justice and urban planning during pand...
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