ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Socio-spatial Stigma and Segregation

A Balmiki Colony in Central Delhi

Caste-based spatial segregation, largely assumed to be a characteristic of rural societies, is reproduced in urban spaces as well, and a large population of Dalits continue to inhabit segregated settlements in the metropolitan cities of the country. Fieldwork conducted in one such segregated neighbourhood of Balmikis in central Delhi is drawn upon to explore how they perceive the urban space and how they think they are perceived by others.

The author is immensely indebted to her research supervisor S Srinivasa Rao for his ideas and insights that helped in developing this paper. She is also thankful to the respondents of the study as without their contribution this paper would not have been possible.

Scholars in the West have argued that sociology’s concern with social stratification about “who gets what and why” should be extended to include and address the question of “where” (Tickamyer et al 2007). This attempt to “spatialise inequalities” and the question of “where” takes us back to some of the ideas articulated by B R Ambedkar and M K Gandhi during the nationalist struggle for Indian independence.

Interestingly, one of the debates around the ideal course of development for India after independence,1 including the emancipation of the marginalised groups such as Dalits,2 gives us some insight into how space reflects social inequalities and maintains hierarchies. “Gandhi believed that even though Indians could achieve political freedom by overthrowing the colonial administration, it was only through the revival of village communities that real swaraj or self-rule could be achieved” (Jodhka 2002: 3346). On the contrary, for Ambedkar, the same village community and its socio-spatial organisation “played a critical role in the perpetuation and evanescence3 of untouchability” (Cháirez-Garza 2014: 37).

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 200.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 12.00

(Readers outside India)

Updated On : 25th Dec, 2018
Back to Top