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Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai

Bjorkman, Lisa

978 0 8223 5969 2
List price(s):
25.95 USD
20.99 GBP

Publication date:
9 October 2015

Short description: 

In Pipe Politics, Contested Waters, Lisa Bjorkman explores why water is chronically unavailable in Mumbai, India's economic and financial capital. She attributes water shortage to economic reforms that allowed urban development to ignore the water infrastructure, which means that in Mumbai, politics is often about water.

Full description: 

Winner, 2014 Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences Despite Mumbai's position as India's financial, economic, and cultural capital, water is chronically unavailable for rich and poor alike. Mumbai's dry taps are puzzling, given that the city does not lack for either water or financial resources. In Pipe Politics, Contested Waters, Lisa Bjorkman shows how an elite dream to transform Mumbai into a world class business center has wreaked havoc on the city's water pipes. In rich ethnographic detail, Pipe Politics explores how the everyday work of getting water animates and inhabits a penumbra of infrastructural activity-of business, brokerage, secondary markets, and sociopolitical networks-whose workings are reconfiguring and rescaling political authority in the city. Mumbai's increasingly illegible and volatile hydrologies, Bjorkman argues, are lending infrastructures increasing political salience just as actual control over pipes and flows becomes contingent on dispersed and intimate assemblages of knowledge, power, and material authority. These new arenas of contestation reveal the illusory and precarious nature of the project to remake Mumbai in the image of Shanghai or Singapore and gesture instead toward the highly contested futures and democratic possibilities of the actually existing city.

Table of contents: 

Acknowledgments ix Introduction: Embedded Infrastructures 1 1. We Got Stuck in Between: Unmapping the Distribution Network 21 2. The Slum and Building Industry: Marketizing Urban Development 62 3. You Can't Stop Development: Hydraulic Shambles 82 4. It Was Like That from the Beginning: Becoming a Slum 98 5. No Hydraulics Are Possible: Brokering Water Knowledge 128 6. Good Doesn't Mean You're Honest: Corruption 165 7. If Water Comes It's Because of Politics: Power, Authority, and Hydraulic Spectacle 198 Conclusion: Pipe Politics 227 Appendix: Department of Hydraulic Engineering 235 Notes 237 References 267 Index 277


Lisa Bjorkman is Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs at University of Louisville, and Research Scholar at CETREN (Transregional Research Network), University of Gottingen.




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