Emerging Politics of Mobility and Streets in Indian Cities
An examination of the process of prioritizing private motorized transportation in Bengaluru, a rapidly growing megacity of the Global South.
Automobiles and their associated infrastructures, deeply embedded in Western cities, have become a rapidly growing presence in the mega-cities of the Global South. Streets, once crowded with pedestrians, pushcarts, vendors, and bicyclists, are now choked with motor vehicles, many of them private automobiles. In this book, Govind Gopakumar examines this shift, analyzing the phenomenon of automobility in Bengaluru (formerly known as Bangalore), a rapidly growing city of about ten million people in southern India. He finds that the advent of automobility in Bengaluru has privileged the mobility needs of the elite while marginalizing those of the rest of the population.
Gopakumar connects Bengaluru's burgeoning automobility to the city's history and to the spatial, technological, and social interventions of a variety of urban actors. Automobility becomes a juggernaut, threatening to reorder the city to enhance automotive travel. He discusses the evolution of congestion and urban change in Bengaluru; the “regimes of congestion” that emerge to address the issue; an “infrastructurescape” that shapes the mobile behavior of all residents but is largely governed by the privileged; and the enfranchisement of an “automotive citizenship” (and the disenfranchisement of non-automobile-using publics). Gopakumar also finds that automobility in Bengaluru faces ongoing challenges from such diverse sources as waste flows, popular religiosity, and political leadership. These challenges, however, introduce messiness without upsetting automobility. He therefore calls for efforts to displace automobility that are grounded in reordering the mobility regime, relandscaping the city and its infrastructures, and reclaiming streets for other uses.
The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.
Based on extensive research in India, Gopakumar develops a new vocabulary for understanding the sociotechnical connections of congestion, infrastructure projects, and the politics of automobile-dependent cities. Beyond providing a new analytical framework, he also examines the strategies of opposition movements, charting pathways to political traction for visions of alternative urban mobilities.
David J. Hess, Professor in Sociology and James Thornton Fant Chair in Sustainability Studies, Vanderbilt University
Installing Automobility presents a critical, rigorous interrogation of the emerging urban form of automobile use and ownership in Bengaluru. Steeped in theory and grounded in empirical analysis, Professor Gopakumar's book provides an important contribution on the urbanism of development in the Global South.
Tridib Banerjee, Professor and the James Irvine Chair in Urban and Regional Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California; author of In the Images of Development: City Design in the Global South
Installing Automobility delivers a searing exposé of how auto-dependence privileges the powerful while producing miserable environments for the majority of residents in the fast-globalizing cities of the Global South. No other book reveals the tragic consequences of car-based urban life with such remarkable detail and power.
Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University
Installing Automobility is a welcome addition to mobility studies, both in the context of India and beyond.
Technology and Culture
Funding provided by: Arcadia Fund