Gendering the Southern City: Water, Intersectionality and the Infrastructures of Inequality

Authors: Yaffa Truelove*, University of Colorado
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Women, Asia
Keywords: water, gender, infrastructure, urban geography, urban political ecology, feminist political ecology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In cities of the global South such as Delhi, where water is normatively procured “beyond the network,” women often substitute for pipes in making water flow across urban space. This includes the gendered practice of women literally using their bodies as material infrastructure, speeding along water’s movement and storage. Congruently, women also channel and circulate water through social infrastructures, including networks of cooperation, socio-political mediation, and conflict that shape the everyday politics of provisioning and procurement. Thus, equally or more important than the city’s centralized hydraulic network are the practices that shape, transect and go beyond it, making water move across India’s capital through diverse everyday tactics and politics. This paper examines these power-laden embodied practices as tied not only to patterns of urban water inequality, but differentiated everyday struggles regarding urban claims-making and gendered rights to the city itself. Drawing on feminist and embodied approaches to urban political ecology, my analysis demonstrates how intersectional forms of material and spatial power associated with the water supply are tied to the ways uneven rights and gendered claims to the city are practiced, understood, and re-made in everyday Delhi.

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