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Journeys with Fish: Fisherwomen’s Social Reproduction, Urban Life and World-Making in Mumbai

Authors: Aparna Parikh*, Dartmouth College
Topics: Urban Geography, Gender, Development
Keywords: urban political ecology, feminist political ecology, South Asia
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper will examine, at a preliminary stage, the ethical ramifications and potential pitfalls of visual participatory methods for a project aimed at investigating the production of urban life through fisherwomen’s journeys with fish in Mumbai. Central to subsistence and livelihood practices, fish plays an important material and symbolic role for the city’s fishing communities. Through their daily and seasonal interactions with fish, fisherwomen reproduce their households and communities, and urban environments within which these transpire. Moving across fish drying grounds, homes, streets, and markets, fisherwomen’s everyday journeys with fish occur in spaces that lie across the city’s public-private continuum. Their journeys entangle with urban infrastructure and unfolding development activities.

The project will focus on these encounters and their imbued socio-spatial dynamics to provide intersectional gendered insights on urban fragmentation and subject formation in a terrain undergoing rapid and uneven change. I intend to document their journeys and perceptions through ethnographic fieldwork, participant observation and participatory visual methods. The latter will constitute a photovoice exercise and photo elicitation interviews with ten research participants. My goal is to elicit fisherwomen to document how fish structures their spatial and temporal relations with the urban fabric. In doing so, one goal of the project is to illustrate the significance of participatory visual methods in revealing the entanglements of gendered environmental practices with the urban built environment, thereby making contributions at the confluence of feminist political ecology, urban infrastructure, and urban environments.

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