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Visions of Social Transformation and the Invocation of Human Rights in Mumbai: The Struggle for the Right to Housing

By Jessie M. Hohmann


The struggle for access to and control over a space in which to live has made housing a central issue for the city of Mumbai. The city\u27s history is one in which human rights and, in particular, the right to housing have played an important role. This article examines the Indian Supreme Court\u27s development of the right to housing as an aspect of the right to life, placing this unique jurisprudence within the complex reality of life for Mumbai\u27s inhabitants. The article traces the growth of this expansive human right through the Indian jurisprudence and then contrasts the housing rights case law with more recent litigation on the environment, urban growth, and rural development, in which the housing rights of marginalized communities have been radically refigured. The analysis reveals competing visions of how human rights should be interpreted and whose interests these norms should protect. In fact, as the article exposes, the contested interpretation of the right to housing is caught up in competing visions of India\u27s social transformation into a new, modern state and the place of its marginalized citizens within that state. In this context, the right to housing emerges as a site of struggle through which the meaning of urban citizenship, participation, and the future of the city itself are contested. The article closes by offering some conclusions on the factors underlying the shift in popular and judicial human rights discourse, showing that competing visions of social transformation have had concrete impacts on the human rights of India\u27s most marginalized citizens

Topics: Human Rights Law, Law
Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 2014
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