Usable Aid: Refugee Resettlement in Post-Partition Delhi

Author(s): Erin P Riggs

Year: 2020


This is a paper/report submission presented at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Previous archaeologies of socialism and the welfare state demonstrate how spaces designed by centralized authorities are often incongruent with the needs of individuals. This paper considers 1947 Partition refugee resettlement in Delhi as a contrasting example, one that exemplifies the potential effectiveness of government investment in public housing. Delhi’s colonies are unique amongst ambitious mid-century government housing projects in other global contexts because they were not designed as a means of forcing social change within impoverished communities. Instead, the government’s primary goal was to provide starter homes to refugees assumed to be capable citizens. As such, Delhi’s resettlement housing is characterized by discrete, autonomously owned units, scalable design, and a flexibility of use. I present examples of how individual refugee families have creatively transformed these allotted spaces over the last seven decades and argue that usable aid is that which puts stock in peoples’ ability to help themselves.

Cite this Record

Usable Aid: Refugee Resettlement in Post-Partition Delhi. Erin P Riggs. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457190)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 1016