D. Asher Ghertner
Rule by Aesthetics
World-Class City Making in Delhi
Oxford University Press 2015
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in GeographyNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network August 11, 2016 Ian Cook
D. Asher Ghertner explores why the ways things look are fundamental for Delhi’s transformation into a “world class”city. Based on deep ethnographic engagement in one of the city’s slums that is destined to be demolished, Rule by Aesthetics: World-Class City Making in Delhi (Oxford University Press, 2015) weaves the experiences of these slum dwellers together with an analysis of middle class Resident Welfare Associations, legal rulings, influential reports, and idle chatter to argue that mapping and surveying are no longer the primary means for administering urban space. Rather it is a set of vague and powerful aesthetic norms derived from notions of what it is to be world class that set the contours of Delhi’s change.Theoretically stimulating and rich in narrative drive, Rule by Aesthetics opens up new ways for thinking about urban governance in India and beyond.