Karail: a social assemblage in Dhaka’s center
Placed in the center of the Dhaka’s urban agglomeration, the informal settlement of Karail represents one interesting case that we could analyse as an assemblage, a complex mix of different actors, architectures and artefacts. People will tell you it's a ‘bustee’ (Bangla for ‘slum’), and advise you not to venture inside. In this chapter, we will try to show you how such a simple dualistic picture of the city/’slum’ is problematic given the multitude of intricate relationship that exist between such a ‘slum’ and the city. While we do not urge you to drop using the word ‘slum’, as historian Alan Mayne (2017) does (given the pejorative connotation of the word), we do urge you to be aware of the rather symbiotic relationship between the two. The geographic separation will seem to be only a charade and hopefully, you will see a Karail that is possible beyond the ‘slum’. We hope to analyse Karail as a place that is not detached from Dhaka, but rather integral to the way it works. We will show how the relationships between various actors, both human and non-human, are in constant flux crafting identities that becomes stabilized in the cognitive conception of the city. In the face of acute lack of housing provided by the state or the market, people often take matters into their own hand and produce their own housing. The housing agglomeration becomes a settlement as other services needed to live an urban life are provided by local entrepreneurs. Often, these informally produced settlements suffer from various lacks (structural deficiency, proper sanitation, air and light) and then becomes a ‘slum’’. Frequently the social capital of the interpersonal networks and the street life as a public resource are undermined in that particular series of becomings (Brand 2009). Moving beyond the ‘slum’, what can Karail become next? In this chapter, we analyse how Karail works as an assemblage within Dhaka city, and then, we speculate on what this ‘slum’ can become in the future.
Citation : MEJIAS VILLATORO, P. and SHAFIQUE, T. (2018) Karail: a social assemblage in Dhaka’s center. In: GARRETA, A. (Ed) Dhaka Totem, Barcelona :Altrim Publishers & AECID (Spanish Agency for International Development), pp.117-137.
ISBN : 9788494234231
Research Institute : Institute of Architecture
Peer Reviewed : Yes