November 2022

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

207, School of Arts and Sciences, Central Campus


How Rent Shapes Our Cities: Cartels, Control and the Making of a Housing Market

Seminar and Lecture Series

Sushmita Pati

Assistant Professor of Political Science
National Law School of India University, Bangalore

We live in cities whose borders have always been subject to expansion. Dr Sushmita Pati’s monograph, Properties of Rent: Community, Capital and Politics in Globalising Delhi (Cambridge University Press, 2022), traces how two villages in Delhi’s southern fringe were brought into the urban fray in the 1950s. As the agricultural lands were acquired, the ‘village lands’ were left as is. This resulted in the villagers witnessing rapid urbanisation happening all around them and them responding to these changes through different methods of accumulating wealth. What does such transformation of rural spaces mean for cities and vice-versa?

The lecture tells the story of how the villagers use their kinship and caste networks to establish control over the village lands which slowly become pockets for manufacturing and cheap housing. It straddles the story of urban speculation and violence, but one that is told through transition of a landed community and their negotiations – a process that isn’t quite unknown in any city today.


Sushmita Pati

Sushmita Pati studied Political Science at Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. Before teaching at NLSIU, she has taught at Azim Premji University, St. Stephens' College and Ramjas College at Delhi University. She has also held a postdoctoral position at the ICAS:MP – an Indo-German research collaboration. She is interested in studying the intersections of Urban Politics and Political Economy. Her earlier writings have appeared in Economic and Political Weekly, Contributions to Indian Sociology and popular media outlets like The Wire and The India Forum.