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Networks And Neighbourhood : Negotiating Social Ecology 2014

Khoj’s Networks and Neighbourhoods: Negotiating Social Ecology explored many conversations with women in Khirkee about their notions of public space. It delved into how young women from once-marginalized colonies negotiate rapid changes in their context amidst traditional family pressures even while the technologically-enabled elision of urban public and private space brings about shifts in identity and aspirations.

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Networks and Neighborhoods focused on how young working women in Khirkee responded and adapted to the pressures of the constantly changing urban ecology within the larger contemporary discourse of risk and vulnerability negotiated by women in urban public space.

REVUE, Delhi-based creative practitioners involved for several years in the creation of community-related art projects, had many informal and formal conversations through cartography sessions and workshops with local women about their notions of public space. Khirkee, a semi-rural colony on the unauthorised/laldora area of South Delhi, still retains a strong though vestigial aura of its origins despite now being fully assimilated into the city in every sense. Within the narrow two- or three-storey buildings with small windows and doors, open spaces take the forms of balconies and staircases that angle into the lanes and courtyards. A primary social space is created through cots drawn together in the lane and pushed back when vehicles need to pass.

Local women are generally dominated by male family members at home and, in terms of accessing public space, are restricted to street corners, parks and shops in their own neighbourhoods. However, many young women often manage to create their own shared collective spaces on rooftops, terraces, stairwells, at municipal taps and in nearby markets, malls and beauty parlours as nodes of community.

At the time, technologies such as mobile phones, the internet and public technological spaces such as cyber cafes were beginning to radically alter social and professional possibilities. Technology had swiftly expanded the awareness, skills and confidence of the young women who left their restricted working-class environment each day and commute to work in distant zones of the city.

 


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