Urban property regimes and citizenship in transition: Changing ownership patterns and systems of relatedness in India


Rising rates of urbanisation and informalisation of the labour force have turned property regimes in India into contested battlegrounds over livelihoods, resources and space. The present study seeks to harness the explicatory power of property for understanding the shifting societal systems and their underlying normative frameworks in post-liberalised India. Differential access to property is interlinked with the appropriation and mobilisation of other resources, including marriage alliances, the extraction of monopoly rent as well as the availability of bank accounts and credit cards.

Thus, property relations not only pertain to capital accumulation, but also to the legitimisation of citizenship and democratic rights defined along intersecting caste, class, religion and gender asymmetries.

Project activities


  • Patil, Varun (2024). "Performing property: My methodological struggles with capturing snapshots of ‘urban property regimes’", In: S. J. Benjamin (ed.), Cities Untold: Spatial stories, negotiations and imaginations. Tulika: New Delhi, (forth.).
  • Jothe, Sanjay (2024): "Ek Nayi Ummeed (Hindi)", In: Hans Hindi Monthly, 4, New Delhi: Akshar Publication, 40–47.
  • Patil, Varun (2024): "From bureaucratic practice to competing policy: examining the durable and redistributive nature of land regularization politics in Bangalore, City", In: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action 28(1-2), DOI: 10.1080/13604813.2024.2324212.
  • Patil, V.; Benjamin, S. (2024): "Porous Bureaucracies, Land and Urban Inclusion. A Perspective from Indian Cities", In: C. Bénit-Gbaffou (ed.), Local Officials and the Struggle to Transform Cities. London: UCL Press, 429-454.
  • Patil, V. & Fuchs, M. (2024): "Ownership rights in practice: Property dynamics in an urban poor settlement in Mumbai – The exemplary case of Dharavi", In: Berliner Journal für Soziologie, 34 (4).
  • Fuchs, Martin (2023): “Beyond Diversity: Precarious Belonging and Religious Conjunctions - Dalits in Dharavi”, In Stausberg, M. (ed.), Religion, Mumbai Style. Events-Media-Spaces, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 62-83.
  • Renzi, B.; Fuchs M.; Linkenbach A. (2023): "Theorizing Across Traditions: Social Science as a Polyphonic Encounter“, In: B. Hollstein, H. Rosa and J. Rüpke (eds.) „Weltbeziehung”. The Study of our Relationship to the World, Frankfurt: Campus, 129-156.
  • Fuchs, Martin (2022): "Metropolitaner Kontext und neue religiöse Bewegungen. Formen hinduistischer kosmopolitischer Urbanität“, In: Moderne Stadtgeschichte, semi-annual vol. 1, 98-111.
  • The Urban Popular Economy Collective, S. Benjamin et al. (2022): "Urban Popular Economies: Territories of Operation for Lives Deemed Worth Living", In: Public Culture 34 (3), 333–357, https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-9937241.
  • Patil, Varun (2022): "Theorising Contestations over Decongesting Street Economies: Beyond Narratives of Inevitable Dispossessions and Shared Commons", In: Jha, S.; Bharat G. (Hrsg.), The Social Life of Streets in India: Histories, Contestations and Subjectivities. Bloomsbury India, 219-243.
  • Fuchs, Martin (2021): “Precarious Belonging: Religious Options and Engagements with the World in a Metropolitan Context. The case of Dalits in Dharavi (Mumbai)”, In: Religion and Urbanity Online, Berlin: de Gruyter. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/urbrel.11276238.
  • Schwecke, Sebastian (2021): Debt, Trust, and Reputation. Extra-legal Finance in Northern India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


  • Benjamin, S. (2023) Video Lecture NPTL: Lecture 35 - Globalized Space Centres Cities (Public Access and Teaching)
  • Sanjay Jothe, “Digital Labor Platforms and the Rural-Urban Technological Divide in India: The Impact of the Jajmani System and the Caste System on the Rural Poor”, presented at a conference organised by the Indian Institute of Human Development in July 2023.
  • Varun Patil, participation and presentation at the panel “Interrogating State capacity on the issue of slum housing” at the IIPN Annual Conference at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad IIM (International Conference) (13.12.2022).
  • Varun Patil, participation and presentation at the international workshop “City Drafting: Property-making and Bureaucratic Urbanism in South Asia”, University of Pennsylvania, the paper presented is currently under review by CITY Journal (Taylor and Francis) as part of the special issue on Bureaucratic Urbanism. (23.05.2022)


  • Beatrice Renzi: "Religion at the crossroads of rural-urban life-worlds“, MWK-Kolloquium. (31.01.2024)
  • B. Renzi; M. Fuchs: "Urban property regimes and citizenship in transition“, concluding workshop B01 subproject. (24.-25.01.2024)
  • B. Renzi; M. Fuchs (Mitveranstalter): "Changing ownership patterns and systems of relatedness in India”, opening workshop subproject B01. (01-02.02.2023)
  • Internal project workshop in Erfurt (01.-02.02.2023).

Project Staff