MSASG Seminar Regional Globalization, Town Development and Middle Class: Preliminary Findings from Darjeeling

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19 April 2013 5:15 pm

Presenters: Ruchira Ganguly-Scrase &Timothy J Scrase, Australian Catholic University (Melbourne)

Despite the rapid transformation of India over the past two decades, and a swathe of publications dealing with the impact of globalization on the culture and economy of the subcontinent, and its large metropolitan cities, far less is known about the regional impacts of globalization, in particular, how globalization is transforming smaller, regional towns in India. Within the literature, the impact of globalization in India has been predominantly analysed in terms of the visible presence of transnational corporations, the spectacular manifestation of shopping malls and multiplex cinemas, and virtual consumption via globalized media. We contend that there is another global reality: the stagnation and/or uneven development in many of India’s regional centres. Additionally, relatively little is known about the lower middle class strata, particularly in regional towns.

Our presentation is part of a larger ARC-funded project on Regional Globalization in India, comparing and contrasting Anand, Gujarat and Darjeeling, West Bengal (with Prof Mario Rutten, University of Amsterdam). In our presentation, which is based on preliminary research in Darjeeling carried-out in December 2012 to January 2013, we describe: 1. The social history and growth of the Darjeeling; 2. the transformations linked to neoliberal globalization which, we surmise, are leading to unique forms of development in Darjeeling; and 3. present and analyse some of the initial findings from our interview data. Our research so far points to the contested nature of the social transformation of Darjeeling, determined by a complex array regional politics, migratory history, the geographic and social distinctiveness of the town itself, and current planning and development policies and programs.

Ruchira Ganguly-Scrase obtained her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Melbourne. She is Professor of Anthropology and the Course Director for International Development Studies and Global Studies, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. She was previously an Associate Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies, University of Wollongong. She is specialist on the intersections of forced migrations and various development narratives, as well as the contemporary transformation of India, focusing on gender and inequality. She is the author of number of articles and book chapters on migrations, the impacts of neoliberal reforms, ethnographic method, childhood and schooling, and gender relations in Asia. Her most recent book is: Rethinking Displacement: Asia Pacific Perspectives, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012; co-edited with Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt).

Timothy J Scrase is Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean for Research, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. He has previously held several senior academic and research director positions in Sociology and Asian Studies at a number of Australian universities, and has also been a visiting research fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), based at the University of Amsterdam. He has published widely on development and social change in a range of leading academic journals and edited collections, and has published five books. His most recent book is: Globalisation and the Middle Classes in India: The Social and Cultural Impact of Neoliberal Reforms (London: Routledge, 2009; co-authored with R. Ganguly-Scrase).