Based on research conducted in Delhi, this article offers insights and thoughts on the different designations of the illegal precarious settlements — the “slums” — and the interventions-evictions targeting them. The perceptions and the terminology around the evictions vary with the speakers and reflect their positions (whether urban planners, magistrates, housing rights’ activists, inhabitants), their reference registers and what their discourses aim to accomplish. The thesis defended is that the categorisation of the slums and their inhabitants impacts the way they are treated. We show how categorisations that are predominantly disqualifying go hand in hand with indictments for irregular situations and with criminalisation, and are the basis for intervention projects. The examination of a rehabilitation project currently underway in a precarious settlement illustrates how the different actors perceive and qualify the same intervention, and highlights divergences, including among the residents. The concluding part places slum demolitions in the broader context of urban transformations and of the preferred modes of governance.
- Urban governance