Consuming high-rise living: the minds of young women in neo-liberal Mumbai

Authors: Ramya Ramanath*, DePaul University
Topics: Gender, Urban and Regional Planning, Third World
Keywords: Gender, Youth, Consumerism, Mumbai, Slums, Slum Resettlement, India
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Muses, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Media reports since publication of India’s 2011 census discuss its new standing as the world’s youngest nation. Depiction of the use of cell phones, choices in fashion, food, movies, and music—all serve as an index of India’s youthful persona. Scholars have noted that these imageries draw attention to a monolithic middle-class Indian identity and call for alternative narrations that bring complexities of gender, class, location, religion, and caste into constructions of a globalizing India. I embrace these complexities in my analysis of a key, but yet-to-be-examined signifier of young India—its high-rise, high-density residential apartments and their consumption by young adult women aged 18-25. Unlike its shorter predecessors that housed the city’s lower, middle and upper-class residents, it is Mumbai’s slum dwellers that are the more recent owners of high-rise apartments.

I will examine how young women brought up in the city’s slums, experience and express their transition into formal housing. I present results from both their retrospective analysis of life in the slums and real-time analysis of life in high-rise housing. Their experiences challenge representations of slums as distanced from nature and therefore not ideal for young people to grow up in and the concomitant representation of high-rises as the antithesis of community. I demonstrate the agency of young adult women by considering the ways in which they carry along older forms of gendering and create a sense of inclusion for themselves, put up with and/or resist exclusionary processes― as citizens and consumers of the world’s youngest nation.

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