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Epistemic Violence Embedded in Urban Policy: Locating Internal Migrants in Pune’s Smart City Mission

Published on April 20, 2024



This article argues that the fundamental cause for migrants’ exclusion, precarity and the othering process in the ‘smart city’ lies in the epistemic violence against them, embedded in the Smart City Mission itself, which develops the knowledge framework of ‘inclusion and exclusion’. An epistemology constructs and shapes the knowledge and ideas of smart cities and the power structures which consequently influence urban government functionaries, urban planners and officials of the Smart City Mission Project Corporation. This constructed knowledge and perception of the smart city serves the interests of the ‘middle-class citizen’ by giving overwhelming importance to smart technologies and infrastructure growth. On the other hand, it systematically disadvantages internal migrants by excluding them at several levels. This epistemic violence has successfully distorted the reality of the existence and contribution of migrants in cities and portrayed a picture of ‘feel-good cities’ pleasing their middle-class citizens. At the same time, it deflects inclusion-directed interventions which would have had a significant positive impact on the lives of the migrants. It normalises the miseries of migrants and validates the salience of urban policy in protecting migrants’ rights. Consequently, migrants experience multiple and interconnected forms of violence and victimhood in their everyday life and remain unheard.

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