“A World Class City of Your Own!”: Civic Governmentality in Chennai, India



Abstract:  This paper utilizes a critical governmentality approach to theorize the processes through which urban elites become stakeholders in the “world-class city”. Through a case study of public consultations for urban development plans in Chennai, India, the paper explores the technologies that produce urban actors who “participate” in urban governance. Key to these technologies is a discourse of participation that privileges and normalizes citizens as urban stakeholders. The paper contributes to current explorations into the technologies of inclusion that are central to an emerging civic governmentality in South Asia. In Chennai this civic governmentality engages various segments of civil society in processes of urban governance through the mechanism of public consultation. It is through these public consultations that elites come to exert influence over urban plans and consolidate a vision and desire for the world-class city.