Contested urbanism: Access and control issues in Tundikhel, Kathmandu

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Contested Open Spaces?: Access and control issues in Tundikhel, Kathmandu

Public spaces play a role of political, economic and cultural transformation of cities and the impact of these transformations on the nature of public space.

Urban open space(s) in Kathmandu have been an important part of the city’s urbanism. Historically they have played an important role in the city as spaces for religious, cultural, social and political and military activities during the 300 years of unified monarchy. Throughout the civil war period (Maoist insurgency between 1996 and 2006) they became material locations for political activities, and a site for protests and dharnas. In post-conflict Kathmandu, especially since the abolition of Monarchy in May 28, 2008, these spaces are increasingly seen being claimed by street hawkers, informal sellers and individuals reflecting a new set of users and functions, whereas a significant part of Tundikhel still remains under the military occupation posing important questions around access, identity and control of an important space.

Public spaces are broadly defined as crossroads where different paths and trajectories meet, sometimes overlapping and other times colliding (Madanipour, 2003). Using Tudikhel in Kathmandu, this research examines the increasing collision and contestations witnessed through social, political and neoliberal interactions. It explores how spaces are constantly
contested, negotiated and as a result reshaped through these interactions. It is observed that multiple forces are at play to gain control and access of this important open space, leading to increasing fragmentation of the space, and erosion of its historic significance both as cultural venue and a symbol of democracy in modern Nepal. It is argued that increasing disconnection of Tudikhel from wider urban setting has contributed to exacerbation of these contestations
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2015
EventAESOP Prague Annual Congress 2015: Definite space - fuzzy responsibility - Czech Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 13 Jul 201516 Jul 2015


ConferenceAESOP Prague Annual Congress 2015: Definite space - fuzzy responsibility
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic


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