Infrapolitics: Public Systems and the Social Life of Water in Mumbai

Quadrants: Environment, Culture, and Sustainability Global Cultures

This book project follows how urban water is made, moved and accessed by settlers and city engineers living in one of India's largest cities. Concerned with the rapid growth of their cities, city planners and administrators have recently proposed a slew of new private infrastructure projects (of water networks, roads and electricity) in various cities around the world. Such privatization initiatives have been extremely contentious, even among settlers that are actively marginalized in public systems. In Mumbai for instance, settlers have to mobilize a series of friends, relatives, and political leaders to get an ordinary water connection from the city’s public system. Yet they vigorously defend public water services. Why do settlers and other marginal groups demand a system that also marginalizes them? Infrapolitics answers this question by attending to the quotidian work of settlers and city engineers as they make water connections in Mumbai. By attending closely to these everyday practices, the book describes the technopolitical constitution of the state, the limits of privatization, and shows how settlers are able to make reliable homes in the city despite the marginalizations effected by states and markets.

University of Minnesota