Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai

Public lecture hosted by LSE Cities

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.


    Lisa Björkman

    Lisa Björkman is Assistant Professor of Urban Affairs at University of Louisville.

    Ninad Pandit

    Ninad Pandit is a Mellon Fellow in Cities and the Humanities, LSE Cities

    Suzanne Hall

    Suzanne Hall is an urban ethnographer and has practised as an architect in South Africa. Her research and teaching interests focus on everyday formations of global migration in the context of inequality, discrimination and resistance, particularly migrant economies and urban multi-culture. From 1997 to 2003 her practice engaged with the role of design in marginalised and racially segregated areas in Cape Town. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including the 2006 Venice Architectural Biennale, and the 2005 Sao Paulo Biennale of Architecture and Design. She was awarded an ESRC Future Research Leaders grant (2015–2017) for a comparative project on ‘Super-diverse Streets: Economies and spaces of urban migration in UK Cities’, which emerges out of her LSE Cities research project on ‘Ordinary Streets’. She is a recipient of an LSE Teaching Award (2017), the Phillip Leverhulme Prize (2017), the LSE’s Robert McKenzie PhD Prize (2010), and the Rome Scholarship in Architecture (1998–1999). Suzi is author of City, Street and Citizen (2012), and The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century City, co-edited with Ricky Burdett (2017).