Lahore Neoliberal Estate Penumbra
The book pages you are about to read is the result of research undertaken for two years for the postgraduate programme at the Institute of Interactive Design (IDI), conducted in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire, UK. It is a photography-based book but is not merely a coffee table photo book. Here, the pictures do not speak for themselves; the research does.
Between 2019 and 2021, I dedicated my entire time to conducting primary and secondary research contemplating the changing urban landscape of the city of Lahore in Pakistan, the unchecked control of private entities over the city and its consequences. I conducted several interviews of people from different walks of life in an attempt to untangle the mess of the real estate sector. There were many contradictions in the findings: official information is either absent or it contradicts with what individuals in official capacity had to tell me on conditions of anonymity. And this is what the outcome exactly is: the real estate sector in the city is an absolute mess. The deliberate lack of transparency from official authorities has paved the way for illegalities to take place, and there remains absolutely no accountability.
I have attempted to break down this issue by providing an overview of neoliberalism, how it affects society, the economy, democracy, and what it has done to the urban fabric of Lahore in particular. Then the book goes further into the details of how land authorities work in Lahore and where the loopholes are. It also discusses neoliberal architecture in the local context and the intersectionality of advertisement billboards in manipulating minds towards neoliberal agendas.