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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Vamsicharan Vakulabharanam

Second Advisor

Michael Ash

Third Advisor

Sripad Motiram

Subject Categories

Development Studies | Growth and Development | Political Economy


This dissertation delineates the underlying dynamics of the political economy of uneven development by focusing on the dynamic interaction between socially produced space, class and the state in the context of postcolonial capitalism in Pakistan. The first essay (chapter two) focuses on the political economy of urban slums in the context of a postcolonial city of Islamabad, Pakistan. It presents a new conceptual framework of ‘expulsionary development’ to illustrate that the growth of slums and high-end gated housing enclaves are two sides of the same coin at the urban scale. Dispossession and urban sprawl are the underlying factors which mediate the processes of uneven urban development. Moreover, the processes of creation, demolition and persistence of slums, are explained in the context of Marxian notion of the real subsumption of space by capital, i.e. the process of land commodification. The second essay (chapter three) makes an intervention in the ongoing debate on the theories of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ by centralizing the role of socially produced space in mediating the processes of dispossession. Based on the case study of the postcolonial Punjab, Pakistan, it is argued that the selective infrastructural policies at a sub-district level can lead to the changes in relative spatiality of places. Places which get the provision of roads are more likely to experience the change in land-use from farming to commercial real estate activities and this process facilitates the dispossession/eviction of small landholders and sharecroppers from the land. Therefore, it is argued that the processes of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ are mediated by the changes in relative spatiality and land-use. The third essay (chapter four) builds on Resnick and Wolff’s (1987) theory of the state by arguing that the postcolonial state is a ‘site’ of contestation not only from the ‘outside’ but also from the ‘inside’. The internal conflict (i.e. the civil-military contradiction) within the postcolonial state of Pakistan manifests in the form of a Punjab-centric hegemonic order which marginalizes people from the peripheries (e.g. Balochistan). By synthesizing Resnick and Wolff (1987) and Henri Lefebvre (1970), the postcolonial state of Pakistan is characterized by the notion of uneven state-spatiality.