Comparative urbanism and collective methodologies: Restoration projects in West Bengal and South East London

John Hutnyk


Asking who gets to compare, this paper advocates inclusive research methodologies through a discussion of comparison and collaboration in urban anthropology. It reports on difficulties in trying to include otherwise excluded perspectives that have particular importance for port city heritage redevelopment, while asking how ethical ethnographic research can still be done. It evaluates ongoing research on two recent maritime restoration projects by considering comparative urban and heritage studies within the framework of collaborative ethnography with informal workers, the unemployed, and other local residents. It asks how to engage “new” researchers in the community to study that community—in this case, those impacted by heritage redevelopment at two sites: in South East London and West Bengal. The paper is conceived as a contribution to ethnographic methodologies in urban anthropology, arguing in support of inclusive and responsive approaches to knowledge creation in the social sciences.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/718528