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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

Against All Odds: The Construction of Mumbai’s Land Market

Anitra Baliga


 
Recent regulatory changes have led to the transformation of Mumbai’s real estate industry. Since 2005, Mumbai has seen an unprecedented flow of finance capital into developing new real estate in the city. The prerequisite for such investments is that land be commoditized, i.e., delinked from social ties, so it can be traded on global financial markets. However, in a context like Mumbai, this is difficult because property rights are unclear and the rules of land development uncertain. Using Mumbai as a case study, this project examines how real estate developers operationalize the imagination of commoditized land in order to establish a financialized market for land. An eighteen-month ethnographic study reveals that a new professional class of developers who strive against all odds to commodify land (as opposed to effectively producing and selling new real estate) has emerged dominant against incumbent and/or financially responsible development firms in Mumbai. However, their struggle to follow through with execution has paradoxically resulted in several abandoned projects in the city and driven financial investors away from participating in further real estate development. Project duration at the MPIfG: October 2019 to March 2020.
 

 
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