Feral ecologies: Mapping into New Delhi’s urban macaque controversy

Authors: Maan Barua*, University of Oxford
Topics: Urban Geography, Animal Geographies, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: urban nature, urban ecology, more-than-human geography, feral, macaque, New Delhi
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper maps into feral urban ecologies: more-than-human attachments and knowledge practices that lie at the margins of and reorder majoritarian cartographies of urban design. Whilst the ‘feral’ is typically associated with abandoned spaces and derelict land (Whatmore & Hinchliffe, 2012 ; Gandy, 2013), the ecologies summoned in this paper pertain to modes of life that thrive on the excesses of urban metabolism and become significant matters of concern. Its focus is on New Delhi’s rhesus macaques, a creature much like us in its adaptability but entangled in a range of controversies that unsettle and pose new questions of urban liveability and governance. It first identifies four domains in and through which their feral ecologies come to the fore. These include the everyday, the bureaucratic, urban health and animal welfare. The paper next maps into state and vernacular interventions that seek to control urban macaque populations. These often pertain to more-than-human modalities involving, for example, the deployment of other primates to ward off macaques as well as capture and relocation enacted through bureaucratic, health and welfare measures. Through this engagement, the paper specifies various material, social and political dimensions of the feral, and conclude by highlighting its import for tracking ‘onto-cartographies’ (Amin & Thrift, 2017) of urban governance and design.

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