skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Articulation work: Value chains of land assembly and real estate development on a peri-urban frontier

If the entanglements of real estate and finance capital are pivotal in ongoing urban transformations in cities of the global south, then a less visible but equally vital dimension is the process of land assembly on which residential and commercial real estate speculation and development are premised. This paper pries open the value chain of land assembly that underlies these transformations in a rapidly expanding peri-urban frontier of Bengaluru, India. Drawing on detailed interviews with land market intermediaries, operating across different scales, who were instrumental in assembling agricultural land for a large apartment complex, the paper shows how existing forms of social power and local knowledge are harnessed to create inter-scalar linkages that enable the creation and extraction of value in Indian real estate. It makes the case for understanding the economic and cultural work of intermediaries in animating land's value chain as ‘articulation work’. Finally, the paper assesses the varying forms and quantum of value that are generated and captured by different actors in the value chain, which stretches from the landowning farmer up to a major real estate company, to reflect on the micro-dynamics of speculative urbanism and agrarian urbanization.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1636437
NSF-PAR ID:
10368039
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  
Publisher / Repository:
SAGE Publications
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Volume:
55
Issue:
2
ISSN:
0308-518X
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 407-427
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Landscapes of Rizq: Islam, Masculinity, and Speculative Real Estate in Lahore The city of Lahore, Pakistan has expanded by 20% in the past 20 years alone. Lahore’s exponential growth is fueled by a financialized real estate market that facilitates speculative trading of plots of land rather than constructed buildings. At the city’s ever-expanding periphery, real estate developers armed with drones and legal teams scout for cheap land while agricultural landowners collaborate to resist these efforts by refusing to sell or inflating prices. In WhatsApp groups, local and overseas Pakistani investors carefully monitor these events by sharing rumors, leaked documents, Google satellite images, and personal photos and videos in order to make their own assessments about the value of land. In the struggle to keep, buy, and sell land, several different approaches to placemaking collide—land as generational wealth; land as expansion of the modern city; land as entry to the middle class; and land as return to the homeland. Meanwhile, the financialization of land has taken a devastating toll on urban development, leading to the displacement of tenant farmers, unprecedented deforestation, and Lahore becoming the second most polluted city in the world. At the same time, speculative real estate in Lahore exists against the backdrop of Pakistan’s longstanding political and economic instability, which includes a largely unregulated economy, dramatic policy changes imposed by international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Action Task Force, and unpredictable currency fluctuations during the 2020 pandemic. While real estate is the most popular form of financial activity in Lahore, it is also extraordinarily risky. Developers routinely sell land before they possess it even though acquisition attempts often fail and government planning permissions to convert agricultural land into urban land are not always received. Local and overseas Pakistanis regularly invest in land despite the long history of fraud and turmoil in the market. Based on 24 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Lahore with developers, investors and landowners, this paper analyzes how these actors navigate risk through the concept of rizq, or the Islamic belief that despite one’s best efforts, their material possessions are ultimately provided by God. I show how rizq and real estate constitute dual economies between which all debts are eventually settled. Attending to the role of masculinity in this male-dominated market, I also examine how rizq entangles with financialization through the male archetypes of the patron, the patriarch, and the adventurer. At the intersection of Islam, masculinity, and speculative real estate, I argue that rizq enables an audacious mode of speculation that has devastated the landscape of Lahore. This paper presentation will be pre-recorded and read over drone footage collected during fieldwork that highlights the speculative landscape of Lahore. 
    more » « less
  2. Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, is increasingly characterized by luxury real estate developments and high-profile infrastructural projects made possible by economic liberalization and finance capital. Yet these developments have contributed to Jakarta’s struggles with chronic flooding, land subsidence, and water shortages. This paper contributes an empirical study of the spatial-temporal dynamics of speculative urbanism and the associated impacts on water resources and flood events in Jakarta. I use an urban political ecology approach to analyze mainland and offshore development. First, I show how financial speculation generates flood risk and the overexploitation of water resources, producing uneven socio-spatial distributions of risk. These transformations in Jakarta’s hydroscape in turn threaten to undermine the city’s viability as a site for speculative investment. I thus show how speculative urbanism can be threatened or disrupted by nonhuman agencies. Second, I illustrate a second form of speculation, which I refer to as environmental speculation. As Jakarta’s water crisis has cast doubt on the future of the city itself as a place of habitation, the state explored an ambitious and potentially lucrative coastal defense project, while private developers have engaged in land reclamation. The turn toward offshore development illustrates how environmental speculation creates new opportunities for capital accumulation. I advance two arguments: first, in order to capture the full costs of speculative urbanism, it is imperative that urban scholars attend to its ecological dimensions. Second, an urban political ecology approach advances our understandings of speculative urbanism by illuminating its contradictions and limits. 
    more » « less
  3. The paper examines the role of slum redevelopment in the production of private property in land in a fast-growing city of southern India. Drawing on an in-depth case study in Bengaluru, we show that the tenurial rights of slum residents were eroded when the contested land on which they lived – which was layered with multiple rights and claims of various actors – was confirmed by the court as the sole property of an individual who claimed to be its owner. The transformation of the plot into private property and therefore into a fungible asset, free of encumbrances, allowed the landowner, the political entrepreneurs who spearheaded the redevelopment project, and various intermediaries to capture most of the rapidly escalating value of the land. The exchange of recognized land tenure rights for small flats carrying conditional titles further excluded slum residents from ‘proper’ urban citizenship based on property ownership and exacerbated the precarity of their lives in the city. In this case, in-situ (on the same site) slum redevelopment is shown to operate as a modality of enclosure in which the urban poor are displaced even while remaining in place – or a process of dispossession without displacement.

     
    more » « less
  4. The city of Lahore, Pakistan has expanded by 20% in the past 20 years alone. Lahore’s exponential growth is fueled by a speculative real estate market that incentivizes quick trades of plots of land rather than constructing buildings. At the city’s ever-expanding periphery, real estate developers armed with village maps and legal teams scout for cheap land while agricultural landowners negotiate within extended families over whether to sell and demand higher prices based on their knowledge of market rates. In WhatsApp groups, overseas Pakistani investors carefully monitor land acquisition efforts by sharing news articles, personal photos and videos, Google Earth images, and copies of government documents in order to make their own assessments about the value of land. But while real estate is the most popular financial investment in Lahore, it is also extraordinarily risky. Developers sell land before they have acquired it; investors make high-risk, high-reward purchases in illegal projects; and even gains become losses due to an unstable national currency. Based on 28 months of ethnographic fieldwork, this paper analyzes how developers and investors navigate risk through the concept of rizq, or the Islamic belief that material wealth is provided by God. I show how rizq mediates the wordly economy of real estate and the other-worldly economy of Islam, dual economies between which all credits and debts are eventually settled. Reducible to neither Islam nor capitalism, I argue that rizq enables a uniquely audacious form of risk-taking that is transforming the landscape of Lahore. 
    more » « less
  5. Water is a critical natural resource that sustains the productivity of many economic sectors, whether directly or indirectly. Climate change alongside rapid growth and development are a threat to water sustainability and regional productivity. In this paper, we develop an extension to the economic input-output model to assess the impact of water supply disruptions to regional economies. The model utilizes the inoperability variable, which measures the extent to which an infrastructure system or economic sector is unable to deliver its intended output. While the inoperability concept has been utilized in previous applications, this paper offers extensions that capture the time-varying nature of inoperability as the sectors recover from a disruptive event, such as drought. The model extension is capable of inserting inoperability adjustments within the drought timeline to capture time-varying likelihoods and severities, as well as the dependencies of various economic sectors on water. The model was applied to case studies of severe drought in two regions: (1) the state of Massachusetts (MA) and (2) the US National Capital Region (NCR). These regions were selected to contrast drought resilience between a mixed urban–rural region (MA) and a highly urban region (NCR). These regions also have comparable overall gross domestic products despite significant differences in the distribution and share of the economic sectors comprising each region. The results of the case studies indicate that in both regions, the utility and real estate sectors suffer the largest economic loss; nonetheless, results also identify region-specific sectors that incur significant losses. For the NCR, three sectors in the top 10 ranking of highest economic losses are government-related, whereas in the MA, four sectors in the top 10 are manufacturing sectors. Furthermore, the accommodation sector has also been included in the NCR case intuitively because of the high concentration of museums and famous landmarks. In contrast, the Wholesale Trade sector was among the sectors with the highest economic losses in the MA case study because of its large geographic size conducive for warehouses used as nodes for large-scale supply chain networks. Future modeling extensions could potentially include analysis of water demand and supply management strategies that can enhance regional resilience against droughts. Other regional case studies can also be pursued in future efforts to analyze various categories of drought severity beyond the case studies featured in this paper. 
    more » « less