Towards the right to housing

Housing for the poor in India has suffered over time from the inadequacies of intervention by the state which is constrained by its dearth of resources and capacity. In this context, the poor have largely self-provisioned their housing requirements resulting in the amorphous proliferation of slums which are governed “informally”. This informality and the differential registers of legitimacy it engenders are the focus of much of the research on slums. Our project also seeks to add to this growing corpus of work on actually existing practices of informal housing.

Alongside this research track, we are also focused on contextualizing these actually existing practices in larger discursive movements. In recent years, there has been a major discursive shift away from thinking of housing as a right to be guaranteed towards thinking of housing as a commodity to be delivered. This shift seems to represent two agendas characteristic of neo-liberalization; firstly, to roll back the state from the housing sector which incidentally involves a great deal of land and construction; secondly, to discursively produce communities of governable citizens who will also be participants in the market.

On this website, we seek to bring together a variety of materials that would be useful for a renewed formulation of the right to housing. This could be, schematically speaking, a conceptual formulation for academics in the fields of social science or law, it could be a political formulation for campaigners or social movements, it could also be a practical formulation for policy makers or consultants.

The materials are divided into 3 broad categories: Research, Resources, Outreach.

Research: The content under this category will consist of working papers, concept notes, essays, critiques written on the basis of HUL’s own research through fieldwork and archival work. The content is further categorized as Ethnography, Genealogy, Critique and Concepts.

Resources: The content under this category is a compilation of essential data and information in an easily accessible format. This includes, interactive and editable maps of slums, timelines of housing policy changes and an annotated bibliography. We will soon be uploading some educational material too.

Outreach: This content is a collection of insights and information derived from our conversations and interactions with other actors in housing rights research and activism. It is mostly in the form of interviews and meeting minutes and summaries.

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