Date

2014

Department or Program

Environmental Studies/Science

Additional Department or Program (if any)

Environmental Studies/Science

Title of Approved Individual Major

Environmental Studies, Architecture

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Jay Turner

Additional Advisor(s)

Christopher Candland

Additional Advisor

Monica Higgins

Additional Advisor

Martha McNamara

Abstract

This thesis bridges the transnational discourses on environmental justice and urban social inequality through an in depth analysis of Bangalore, India. I define environmental justice as the meaningful participation in the development of the environment and the fair access to that environment across peoples regardless of difference. Although gaining traction in other global cities, environmental justice has not been considered in Indian cities because the conceptualization of the “environment” is pragmatically restricted to rural areas. I ground this thesis in three core arguments: (1) the natural environment and built environment exist in a hybrid form in both cities and rural areas; (2) by ascribing agency to both the natural and the built components of hybrid environments, it is possible to qualify their nexus as it impacts the human experience; (3) problems that are commonly understood as social injustices are shaped by this natural-built environment (NBE) nexus, and must therefore be reconstructed as environmental injustices. By studying Bangalore’s development using the NBE nexus framework, I am able to understand the city’s dichotomies on a deeper level, as inextricably linked to its environment in both causes and solutions. Chapter 1 places Bangalore in a global context, establishing it as a relevant and useful case study for understanding urban environments and injustice worldwide. In Chapter 2 and 3, I analyze the history of Bangalore’s urban and rural NBE nexuses, respectively, in order to understand the injustices that have persisted through today. In Chapter 4, I analyze Ejipura Slum, a dramatic example of how Bangalore’s NBE nexus creates a negative urban experience for poor people. I conclude with a case-study-based exploration of potential strategies for mitigating environmental injustice and reimagining the NBE nexus to be sustainable and just for all.

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