Over the past few decades, India has experienced a sudden and spectacular urban transformation. Gleaming business complexes encroach on fields and villages. Giant condominium communities offer gated security, indoor gyms, and pristine pools. Spacious, air-conditioned malls have sprung up alongside open-air markets. In Landscapes of Accumulation, Llerena Guiu Searle examines India's booming developments and offers a nuanced ethnographic treatment of late capitalism. India's land, she shows, is rapidly transforming from a site of agricultural and industrial production to an international financial resource. Drawing on intensive fieldwork with investors, developers, real estate agents, and others, Searle documents the new private sector partnerships and practices that are transforming India's built environment, as well as widely shared stories of growth and development that themselves create self-fulfilling prophecies of success. As a result, India's cities are becoming ever more inaccessible to the country's poor. Landscapes of Accumulation will be a welcome contribution to the international study of neoliberalism, finance, and urban development and will be of particular interest to those studying rapid and perhaps unsustainable development across the Global South.
Llerena Guiu Searle is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester.