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How Are Urban Dalits Segregated? Evidence From Ulajhpur, Rajasthan


· Jusmeet Singh Sihra CERI, Sciences Po, Paris & the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Paris & Jerusalem, France)


07/29 | 09:40-10:00 UTC+2/CEST


While the anonymity of urban spaces was supposed to conceal caste identity, Dalits (ex-untouchables) continue to be socio-spatially segregated in urban spaces in India. What makes this phenomenon even more puzzling is that caste has no clear visible markers, unlike race, or religion to a lesser extent. In my project I ask: what are the mechanisms of segregation of Dalits in Indian urban spaces? The study proposes a fine-grained analysis, using mixed-methods - ethnography, a census survey of 697 households of a predominantly Dalit neighbourhood and geo-localised cartography - to understand nuanced patterns of segregation of various Dalit castes in a city. This methodology highlights both micro and macro patterns, unlike previous works that focus on aggregate data at spatial level (ward) or use generic caste categories (such as Scheduled Castes). The study shows that (1) Caste, class and urban space interact to produce patterns of segregation; (2) Urban segregation involves not only upper castes and lower castes, but also lower castes among themselves; (3) Main roads are an important axis of segregation: the closer one is to a main road, the higher the caste and class; (4) There is little to no spatial mobility of Dalits who are confined away from main roads. The article contributes to the theory of segregation by conceptualizing caste-based segregation. Using theories of citadel, enclave and ghetto, it introduces a new typology of “Outer Road Citadels”, “Inner Road Ghetto” and “Core Ghetto” shedding light on spatial discrimination of castes in cities.