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    Dalit Panthers and Postcolonial Anxieties
    Published: 2016-11-30

    Tuesday 06 December, 4:30-6:00p
    203 Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Ave, Yale University

    I will be giving a talk on my new research project at the South Asian Studies Council Colloquium Series.

    [Event link]

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    Yale South Asia Council
    Published: 2016-08-18
    I will be joining Yale University as a Postdoctoral Associate in the South Asia Council and Lecturer in the Department of History and in South Asian Studies. Sad to be moving away from London, but hope to be back before long!

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    The Future City: cruel or consoling Utopia?
    Published: 2016-01-27

    Saturday 27 February 2016, 5:00-6:30p
    Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

    This is a panel discussion organized by Ed Charlton and me, and part of the LSE LitFest 2016. "LSE's 8th Literary Festival, inspired by the anniversary of Thomas More's Utopia, will explore the power of dreams and the imagination and the importance of idealism, dissidence, escapism and nostalgia, as well as the benefits of looking at the world in different ways."). The event is co-sponsored by LSE Cities and the Mellon Fellowship in Cities and the Humanities.

    • The Future City, as an idea that often relies upon Utopian thinking to sustain itself, can be as cruel as it is consoling. Even as it makes possible investment into urban space as a site of future fulfillment, it regularly fails to deliver upon this promise. This panel asks what futures such Utopian thinking makes available for the city and what present realities it denies? It will query more specifically the Utopias that have come to structure London’s own particular futures. What Utopian thinking is operative, for instance, in a city so firmly structured around the logic of speculation intrinsic to finance capital? And what futures might present citizens be imagining for themselves?


    Speakers: Darran Anderson, Matthew Beaumont, Rachel Cooper.
    Chair: Richard Sennett
    Podcast
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    Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai
    Published: 2016-01-20

    Thursday 21 January 2016, 6:30-8:00p
    Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

    Lisa Björkman will deliver a talk on her award-winning book Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai. I will be serving as a respondent for the book. [Event page]

    • The book focuses on the Indian city of Mumbai and looks at how two dazzling decades of urban development and roaring economic growth have presided over the steady deterioration – and sometimes spectacular breakdown – of the city’s water infrastructures. Ethnographic attention reveals how water is made to flow by means of intimate forms of knowledge and ongoing intervention in the city’s complex and dynamic social, political, and hydraulic landscape. The everyday work of getting water animates and inhabits a penumbra of infrastructural activity – of business, brokerage, secondary markets and socio-political networks – whose workings are transforming lives as well as reconfiguring and rescaling political authority in the city.


    Here are two questions around which I hope to kick off the discussion:

    1. The book concludes by saying that Pipe Politics is “not politics of concession or corruption, or clientelism" but is “representative politics in full swing.” Is local city politics today largely the search for better services?
      And if so, how might this claim be located in the context where middle-class citizens demonstrate for transparent governance in Indian cities? Is the middle class pushing back against this “full-swing representative politics” practiced largely, as Partha Chatterjee had suggested, by the urban poor?
      In other words, have questions of language and religion, the historic building blocks of local politics in Bombay, been finally subsumed by talk of service delivery and development?
    2. The books charts the changing attitudes of bureaucrats and citizens to issues of “privatization” of public services—whether by indoctrination or by indifference, bureaucrats have made their peace with privatization, while activist-citizens have abandoned the 1990s-vintage anti-globalization positions in favor of more pragmatic approaches that put services before activism. Recent ethnographic scholarship takes an interest in this issue, but chooses to avoid questions of social justice and critiques of globalization in favor of making claims about the shifting nature of institutions of democracy. (see: Matthew Gandy on comparative ecology, Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria on urban entrepreneurship, Liza Weinstein on housing rights).
      All this is broadly in keeping with Arturo Escobar’s old critique of development as “cultural imperialism,” but is carefully adapted to account for the demise of anti-globalization movements and to reflect the growing aspirations of third-world citizens.
      Has the anti-globalization movement’s end meant that critiques of development can finally be forgotten? Or has democracy in the global south finally matured, where it can creatively overcome the tyranny of development?

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    Talk at SOAS
    Published: 2015-11-06

    "Art that leads to action": Progressive Writing and Marathi workers in Bombay, 1940-60
    24 November 2015, 5:00p
    SOAS, Russell Square. Main Building, Room G51

    While Hindi-Urdu progressive writing in Bombay succumbed to the pressures of the film 'industry' right from the first-known film script by Premchand, Marathi writers turned to the city's Marathi working class in their search for new subjects. These socially-conscious writers, especially influenced by the distinct cosmopolitanism of the city, discovered creative ways of rewriting the role of Marathi workers in building the city’s industry and society. This paper will argue that Marathi progressive writers and public intellectuals drew upon key concepts of Urdu progressives—a rejection of sentimentality and the search for literature that 'creates the power to act'—to account for new forms of labor and labor relations in Bombay's industrial society. As the city's working class was appropriated by the nationalist movement in the 1940s, these progressive writers began to craft an idea of "Marathi socialism" with Marathi workers as the last bulwark against capitalism, and posited that a territorial expression of such workers would be tantamount to a victory for socialism. Facilitating this myth was a longer history of Marathi literature and theater, but at the core of Bombay’s nativist turn was the most progressive literary movement in India.
    [Event link]


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