Density, Ecology and the Pandemic: Navigating unequal geographies in Manila and Mumbai

Authors: Priyam Tripathy*, University of Durham
Topics: Urban Geography, Environment
Keywords: pandemic, density, Mumbai, Manila
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 44
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated structural violence, poverty, and already existing socio-economic inequalities across the world. Speaking from high-density cities in the global South like Mumbai, Manila, and Dhaka to name a few, offers a window to explore the conditions of life and forms of re-arrangements made possible by the urban majority. This paper focuses on the ecological and economic impacts of the pandemic faced by vulnerable communities who live and work in close proximities to the city’s garbage grounds. First, I aim to understand how the pandemic has exacerbated the urban waste crisis and environmental pollution in the high-density cities of Mumbai and Manila. Second, I aim to understand the logic of governing a pandemic- as haphazard waste disposal and especially the dumping of bio-medical waste continues to deteriorate the ecological and sanitary conditions of many, why has there been a lack of waste management strategies and an absence of air pollution norms? Focusing on narratives from Mumbai and Manila I examine how the pandemic impacted the ecology of waste and air of the city while putting at risk the health of those who live in vulnerable conditions. In this context, it is crucial to ask what measures were adopted to manage the flows of high-densities during different moments of the pandemic, and how the management of high-densities itself became a site and logic of governance. Given this logic and mode of governance, what arrangements did the city’s residents put together to survive, cope or escape the pandemic?

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