Lisa Björkman discussed her new book ‘Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai’ in this LSE Cities public lecture.
The book focuses on the Indian city of Mumbai and looks at how two dazzling decades of urban development and roaring economic growth have presided over the steady deterioration – and sometimes spectacular breakdown – of the city’s water infrastructures. Getting water to come out of Mumbai’s pipes is an activity that requires continuous attention to and intimate knowledge of a complex and dynamic social and political hydraulic landscape.
Ethnographic attention reveals how water is made to flow by means of intimate forms of knowledge and ongoing intervention in the city’s complex and dynamic social, political, and hydraulic landscape. The everyday work of getting water animates and inhabits a penumbra of infrastructural activity – of business, brokerage, secondary markets and socio-political networks – whose workings are transforming lives as well as reconfiguring and rescaling political authority in the city.
Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai (Duke University Press, 2015) was awarded the American Institute of Indian Studies’ 2014 Joseph Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences.