Erasures in ‘sustainable’ development: gendered negotiations of shifting urban edges in Mumbai, India

Authors: Aparna Parikh*, Dartmouth College
Topics: Asia, Urban Geography, Gender
Keywords: urban geography, feminist geography, urban political ecology, South Asia, India, Mumbai
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8217, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The growth of India’s neoliberal service sector has transformed the historically urban periphery of Malad into a call center hub and a symbol of modern Mumbai. In this paper, I examine gendered experiences of fishing communities residing in Malad to articulate the following contradictions in Mumbai’s neoliberal development: Mindspace Malad, a hub for call centers, is depicted as a “perfectly blended ecosystem,” yet its development has detrimentally impacted health and livelihoods reliant on environmental resources. My analysis reveals how Mindspace Malad’s development has reworked numerous edge conditions. The transformation of Malad from an urban periphery to exemplary of Mumbai’s development has altered symbolic connotations of the city’s edges. Zoning relaxations have transformed edges between private and public land, with heightened risk to ecological commons. This construction has reworked land-water edges through infill activities, rendering landscapes toxic and killing off fish. As such, indigenous fisher folk living along these edges are threatened by Mumbai’s contemporary neoliberal regime; a marginalization that disproportionately impacts women within these communities. Fisherwomen have had to alter everyday strategies for livelihoods and household reproduction in the wake of contemporary urbanization. Their struggles are absent not only in the state’s neoliberal discourse but also rendered invisible in resistance to Mumbai’s urbanization. I make visible the struggles of these indigenous women for production and social reproduction and illustrate the threads connecting their intimate practices of navigating urban edges to large-scale transformations. As such, I contribute to feminist and urban geographic scholarship in political ecology and Asian urban environments.

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