Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program

Environmental and Urban Studies

Project Advisor 1

Noah Chasin

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Mumbai, India has witnessed a period of unbridled growth over the past two decades along with a dramatic increase in the number and percentage of those living in areas deemed to be slums. Now, over 60% of the city's population is living on less than a tenth of all available land within the greater metropolitan region. This paper argues, firstly, that the nominal category of slums, as generally understood is insufficient in its breadth and context to sense of urban poverty in Mumbai. A demolition narrative is presented to elucidate the concerns, fears, and hopes of the millions of urban poor who live in Mumbai to get a realistic sense of life in a slum on the edges of the city. Secondly, it is argued that large-scale renewal and infrastructural development plans proposed by intra-governmental bodies; federal, state, and municipal bodies; and influential consulting firms, actually perpetuate, through misguided demolitions, the creation of non-durable housing and local environmental hazards. the latter can contribute to the marginalization and invisibility of many Mumbaikars, the forceful removal of 'encroachers' and legitimately sanctioned settlers alike becomes part of a larger, subversive narrative that paints slum dwellers as a burden on the city, in turn justifying their systematic disenfranchisement. This paper contends, to the contrary, that these slums are better understood as self-generated, self-sustaining, and self-monitoring agglomerations of people and materials. This paper also argues that a political ecology of slums must be worked into future plans for investment in the city's poor if Mumbai is to become a world-class city.

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