Leisure as liminal: boundary-making and interstices in social reproduction of Mumbai’s urbanism

Authors: Aparna Parikh*, Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Gender, Asia, Social Theory
Keywords: South Asia, social movement, leisure, social reproduction, urbanism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Studio 9, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper theorizes the potential of radical leisure, an anti-capitalist mode of temporal and spatial disruption, as a critical vantage revealing relations between production and social reproduction in producing urbanism. Through ethnographic field-based research, I examine instances of female call center employees socializing and smoking on the streets outside workspaces in Mumbai at night. Women engage in these activities of leisure during breaks as well as after night shifts. These moments represent breaks from capitalist formulations of leisure as consumption, while also disrupting routines set up through coordination between patriarchal stakeholders (the state, families and corporate entities) who seek to ensure that women are chaperoned in transitions between the space of work and household responsibility. The space and time of leisure provided me an opportunity to conduct interviews, revealing the role these women, played in helping produce the political economy, and its accompanying urbanization, thereby creating an important space for data collection. Further, I posit that radical forms of leisure also holds theoretical potential for theorizing relations between production, social reproduction, and urbanism. While Phadke, Ranade & Khan (2011) articulate the value of loitering for claiming urban space, I turn to the potential of leisure (considered in tandem with loitering) as a ‘limen’ – a ‘…gap “between and betwixt” universes of sense’ (Lugones 1990, 505). In this paper, I suggest how leisure as a limen – in its positioning within and outside structures, holds significance for theorizing urbanism through the interaction and gaps between processes of production and social reproduction.

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