Following World War I Presidency towns in British India witnessed a sudden, abnormal rise in housing and rents, resulting in heated debates about the relation between municipal governance, the market, and private capital. By studying this particular moment, Bhattacharyya's article uncovers the emergence of a housing and rent market in Calcutta predicated on notions of housing rights as an outgrowth of worker protest and militancy, on the one hand, and market speculation in land and housing on the other. This tension opened up a space for colonial intervention, one that drew upon numerical reasoning driven by discourses of financial calculations of value and potential risks within the emerging urban real-estate market. The article contends that the regulations surrounding the housing speculation during the 1920s were an early bureaucratic exercise in rationalizing the urban land market in order to make it efficient by regulating the ways in which land and housing accrued value economically.
Interwar Housing Speculation and Rent Profiteering in Colonial Calcutta
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Debjani Bhattacharyya; Interwar Housing Speculation and Rent Profiteering in Colonial Calcutta. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2016; 36 (3): 465–482. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-3699007
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