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Research Group: Education and the Urban – Research

The Changing Urban, Educational Aspirations and Opportunities: Perspectives from the Margins of Delhi City

Geetha B. Nambissan

This project maps the rapidly changing urban and educational landscape in the city of Delhi. It investigates the implications of these changes on the aspirations and strategies of poor migrants on the margins of the city. They include groups, such as Dalits and Muslims, which have experienced economic and social vulnerability because of poverty and marginalized identities of caste and minority status. Such marginalization includes segregated spatial locations where they reside. Gender also mediates marginality and influences opportunities for better life chances.

The study is based mainly on a review of relevant secondary research on Delhi in order to map urban transformations and changes in the systems of schooling (public and private) that the city has witnessed and how this has led to privilege and disadvantage for its inhabitants. Using the lens of marginality, the project will analyse what these changes have meant for the schooling opportunities, aspirations and future life chances of children.

Ethnicity, Aspirations and Education: A Study of Young Women from the North-East Region residing in an urban village in Delhi

Geetha B. Nambissan (PI) and Yamini Agarwal (Research Assistant)

An important strand of urban migration ist that of young people who aspire for better educational and professional opportunities that the city is seen to offer. As the centre of administrative, bureaucratic and professional opportunities and as well as high quality educational institutions, Delhi is particularly attractive. A sizeable number of those who come to Delhi for this purpose are youth from the north-eastern states where educational institutions are inadequate and of relatively poor quality. Youth from this region find accommodation in what are classified as 'urban villages' within Delhi. These are former villages engulfed by the city where lax building norms have provided opportunities for affordable rent and led to a transformation of these spaces, making them a unique mix of the rural and urban. Fragmentary research on north-east migrants in Delhi as well as newspaper reports point to the verbal and physical violence that they face within the city because of stereotypes and prejudices that prevail about the region to which they belong and its culture. Women in particular are subject to sexual harassment as well. Yet we find an increasing number of young people from the different states in the north-east coming to Delhi to access education and occupations that the city offers.

The study proposes to focus on young women (10-15) from the north-east residing in one such urban village in Delhi that has been transformed primarily because of the relatively cheap accommodation that it makes available. It explores the journeys of these women from their states of origin to Delhi, their struggles to find a place to reside, access to education/ occupations and their efforts to make a home in the city. It attempts to understand how ethnicity and gender mediate their day-to-day lives in the neighbourhood, the city and its institutions and their strategies to 'fit in' as well as to create a social space of their own. Perceptions of the 'north east' and young people from this region will also be explored by interviews with key persons in the urban village.

Inner city schools and the education of poor Muslim and Catholic children in colonial and postcolonial Kolkata

Indra Sengupta/ Akash Bhattacharya

Research questions: What is the relationship between urban spaces and pedagogy? How does the location of inner-city schools in densely populated, non-residential areas, drawing in children from poorer backgrounds living in such densely-populated, business areas affect classroom pedagogy? What kinds of differences in policy and practice of education of the urban poor existed between schools run by the government and private actors such as Catholic missions? How can one trace a history of education of the poor and the marginalised in cities from colonial times to the decade or so after independence from colonial rule?
The project is conceived of as a historical micro-study of two sets of schools, the first run by Catholic orders and date back to the middle years of the twentieth century and the second consisting of state-run schools set up by the municipal corporation of the city of Kolkata from the 1920s onwards for the education of poor children. With the help of official sources (records of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Department of Public Instruction of the Government of Bengal), mission records, printed texts, and oral narratives, we shall attempt to understand the interrelated nature of city space, education and social exclusion and inclusion.  

Urban Dislocations and Educational Strategies: Metro Rehabilitation Colony, Bengaluru

Shivali Tukdeo

Displacements, eviction and rehabilitation have become common aspects of urban development initiatives. Focusing on re-structuring of the city of Bengaluru over the last decade, this project pays greater attention to two rehabilitated colonies in the city. Metro train has been a signature feature of the post-2000 development in Indian cities starting with initial operations in Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and moving gradually to other cities. Capital intensive projects such as the metro rail highlight the linkages between public transportation, infrastructure-driven development and new ways of accessing and connecting to the city.
As the metro construction was underway the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) proceeded to acquire land in the city. Two settlements, centrally located and densely populated, were cleared out and rehabilitated to the periphery of the city. For the resdents of these Bastis the dislocation meant two contrasting pieces of reality: loss of their social world and livelihood opportunities and acquisition of certain material resources as part of compensatory processes. How do families start-over in the ever changing city like Bangalore? How do they plan for educationof their children? Our field engagements began with the attempts to make sense of the political economy of urban dislocation and the place of education in re-settling. As interviews with residents of the two sites show, there is an intensification of the need to acquire good education. Resources of diverse kinds are deployed for educational access leading us to understand the imprints of privatisation, expansion of early childhood education and the limits of access to good education for the marginalised.

Discourses of public education in an industrial city: Bombay, 1900-1945

Nandini Manjrekar

Bombay (now Mumbai) was India's foremost industrial city in the early twentieth century, largely owing to the concentration of textile mills located in the city. Many scholars have drawn attention to the ways in which the mills came to constitute the city in many respects, and influenced policies related to its growth. The project will aim to explore the various discourses around education of children of the industrial workforce, in particular the setting up of schools in the mill district, also called Girangaon, by the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC). Schooling in the BMC schools offered medium of instruction in nine languages, a striking reflection of the diversity of the workforce migrating from various regions of the country for employment in the city's mills. Many of these schools still exist, although in much altered form, having survived the impact of de-industrialisation in the area following the historic mill strike of the mid 1980s and the gradual closure of the mills since the 19990s. While there is a large body of scholarship on the Bombay mills and their relation to the city, worker organisations, welfare and rights, as well as the social and cultural lives of workers living in the area, the dimension of public schooling policies in the area has not been studied through a historical lens. The study is an archival project, drawing on available educational records of the BMC and other organisations invested in workers' welfare in the city of Bombay.