Getting Water in Mumbai: Eight Methods of Access
Posted: 29 Mar 2010
Based on ten months of fieldwork in Mumbai, India, this paper explores practices of water access and acquisition, focusing on the histories, geographies, and power relations that water produces and inhabits as it flows through the city. How do the residents, industries, and small businesses in Mumbaiﾒs suburbs meet their daily water requirements? What kinds of networks and systems of authority are leveraged in order to mitigate risk and secure reliable supplies of water? My research pays particular attention to the various forms that water takes; while water is generally theorized as a homogenous substance provided as an infrastructural service, in actuality, there are so many kinds of water (well water, rain water, brackish water, fresh water, in addition to municipally-supplied piped water), and an even-wider variety of access mechanisms. While policy perspectives tend to approach urban water questions with engineering and technological 'solutions,' my research instead foregrounds the politics and power relations embedded in certain configurations of water access and flow across Mumbai.
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