Dr. Nitin Bathla

Tel.: +41 78 730 95 06


Dr. Nitin Bath­la is an archi­tect and rese­ar­cher at ETH Zurich. His PhD is entit­led ‘Delhi wit­hout bor­ders’. Nitin regu­lar­ly col­la­bo­ra­tes with film-makers, artist, and civil socie­ty orga­ni­sa­ti­ons in order to bridge the rese­arch-acti­vism divide.

The­sis Abs­tract
Con­co­mi­tant with India’s spec­ta­cu­lar eco­no­mic growth sin­ce the 1990s libe­ra­li­sa­ti­on reforms, the Indi­an coun­try­si­de has wit­nessed excee­din­gly pro­found trans­for­ma­ti­ons as well. Depar­ting at this spa­tio-his­to­ri­cal con­junc­tu­re, this dis­ser­ta­ti­on seeks to cri­ti­cal­ly exami­ne pla­ne­ta­ry ent­an­gle­ments within the ongo­ing urba­ni­sa­ti­on of agra­ri­an land and com­mons in India through focu­sing on the trans­for­ma­ti­ons in the exten­ded urban regi­on of Delhi spe­ci­fi­cal­ly. Employ­ing a trans­duc­ti­ve and cri­ti­cal eth­no­gra­phic approach, this rese­arch pie­ces tog­e­ther lar­ge-sca­le urban pro­ces­ses through brin­ging local fric­tions, and con­flicts into a pla­ne­ta­ry per­spec­ti­ve. Pre­cis­e­ly, it attempts to loca­te the role of archi­tec­tu­re and urban stra­te­gies in enab­ling glo­bal capi­tal accu­mu­la­ti­on media­ted through the pro­duc­tion of cheap land, cheap labour, and cheap natu­re. First­ly, through fol­lo­wing the trans­for­ma­ti­on of exis­ting agra­ri­an vil­la­ges into tene­ment towns through the plan­ned exclu­si­on of unpro­fi­ta­ble infra­struc­tures such as workers housing under exten­ded urba­ni­sa­ti­on. Inves­ti­ga­ting in par­ti­cu­lar the role that such grey zones play in hel­ping main­tain a mobi­le sur­plus labour over an exten­si­ve urban fabric, neces­sa­ry for low-cost glo­bal manu­fac­tu­ring. Second­ly, this rese­arch fol­lows the rapid roll­out of eco­no­mic and infra­struc­tu­re cor­ri­dors across India, which are emer­ging in bypass to the still unfi­nis­hed land cor­ri­dors. Loca­ting pre­cis­e­ly the role they play in dif­fe­ren­ti­al­ly ope­ning agra­ri­an land and com­mons for enclo­sure and urba­ni­sa­ti­on through fabri­ca­ting the pre­con­di­ti­ons for exer­cis­ing the emi­nent domain. Third­ly, the stu­dy fol­lows the pro­duc­tion of an exten­ded urban natu­re through the con­so­li­da­ti­on and sim­pli­fi­ca­ti­on of eco­lo­gi­cal com­mons into natu­re pro­tec­ted are­as. Fol­lo­wing cru­ci­al­ly the seman­tic con­s­truc­tion of eco­lo­gi­cal com­mons as ‘was­te­lands’, which can then be ope­ra­tio­na­li­sed for new cycles of value extra­c­tion through pro­grams such as car­bon tra­ding sche­mes. Final­ly, it dis­cus­ses alter­na­ti­ve eco­lo­gies and prac­ti­ces of com­mo­ning in the unin­ten­ded land­scapes pro­du­ced under exten­ded urba­ni­sa­ti­on through fol­lo­wing the adap­ti­ve stra­te­gies of trans­hu­mant pas­to­ral itin­er­ants. In the­se explo­ra­ti­ons, this dis­ser­ta­ti­on jour­neys across mul­ti­ple sca­les, and space times explo­ring how colo­ni­al and post­co­lo­ni­al traces are con­se­cu­tively rede­ploy­ed under exten­ded urbanisation.