Co-Producing Knowledge in Action: Reflecting from the Main Bhi Dilli Campaign for Equitable Planning in Delhi

Ruchika Lall, Rashee Mehra, Malavika Narayan | 2023


Practices of insurgent or bottom-up planning, of community-based organisations, networks and social movements are understood to be peripheral to the dominant paradigm of planning in southern contexts. Yet there is a lot of knowledge collectively held and coproduced within and through these practices, which are also sites of knowledge production. This paper reflects on the process of coproduction of knowledge within a campaign for equitable urban planning in Delhi – Main Bhi Dilli Campaign. The campaign brings together urban actors with diverse positionalities – informal worker’s and resident’s collectives, researchers and academic actors, social movements, and civil society organisations, across sectors and lived experiences. In this paper we ask: how does co-production of knowledge take place at the scale of the city, and within a campaign with diverse membership and priorities? We reflect on the role of academic actors in such coproduction of knowledge. We draw from the archival material of the campaign produced through prolonged dialogue and practice-based research. We focus on one particular knowledge product that the campaign has produced called the Factsheets. Factsheets are 4-page documents that simply provide an overview of the theme (such as informal livelihood, housing, gender), and what the Master Plan can do to address the gaps in planning that exist. We use the ‘factsheets’ produced through the campaign, as an artefact of co-production, as a site that holds the processes of coproducing knowledge together. We reflect upon the processes of holding, contesting and channeling multiple knowledges within the campaign, highlighting the value of these internal processes for coproduction of knowledge. While the exact format and material may not be translatable in contexts with different social and political realities, we argue that the processes of coproducing knowledge for action while in a diverse coalition are useful across contexts for more equitable urban planning.