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March, 2024

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Bhavani Raman, Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay, and Yahia Shawkat in conversation, moderated by Anwesha Ghosh

This event features speakers who have employed different methodologies beyond the scope of conventional and “official” archives to rethink the question of the right to the city, politics over urban land (including urban commons), and water justice. Bhavani Raman’s use of GIS technology to map recent floods in Chennai connects it to a sense of nostalgia for a time predating the days of colonial hydrological engineering. Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay’s recent book, Streets in Motion explores the Hawkers Sangram Committee archive in Calcutta as a veritable recordkeeping device to map the commoning (“encroachment”) practices by the city’s itinerant pub- lic. Yahia Shawkat is the author of Egypt’s Housing Crisis and cofounder of 10 Tooba, an organisation that specializes in data visualization and historical mapping. Together their works raise the question of how archives may be viewed as a technology that activates imagination, nostalgia, rights-claims, and belonging. How do we distinguish the historians’ craft from the work of historical anthropology? How/why do we write urban histories that may double up as works of activism and advocacy?