Of parks and politics: the production of socio-nature in a Gujarati town

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  • University of Lausanne


Urban parks in India are often discussed as positive environmental projects, and their creation appears as unproblematic in public discourse. This paper presents the creation of a municipal park in a small city in Gujarat, India. Using insights from history and architecture, we stress the importance of reading parks as political and to some extent ideological projects in the larger context of city-making. The political ecology and history of the particular park studied here allow us to problematise the socio-ecological project of urban “beautification” via park creation. The municipal park, established in the centre of a small urban agglomeration after displacing a slum settlement from the site, is–as we argue–an integral part of a local geography of power. As such it expresses several registers of values upheld by local elites and brings into focus highly conflictive social relations. The case study contributes to further developing a situated urban political ecological approach that starts theorising cities from the South. It moreover offers a critical perspective on the understudied urban nature of small towns.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-66
Number of pages18
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number1
Early online date17 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • India, Parks, slums, urban political ecology