As climate change and rising sea levels promise to inundate coastal cities around the world, this paper attends to the different ways in which the urban sea is made, managed and mediated in the city of Mumbai. The sea, the paper shows, is not nature, nor is it beyond the city. Instead, it is made through and with urban processes, including sewage, fish, tides and garbage. It is regularly inhabited by urban fishers and other workers living in the city and the sea. How might an attention to practices and processes in the Anthroposea give us a different vantage point to examine urban processes in climate changed waters?
This paper focuses on two distinct processes: life that blooms by urban sewage and life that is precluded by an algal plume stretching from the middle of the Arabian sea . It shows how these habitats, produced with human and natural actors, challenge more terrestrial understandings of scale and responsibility, and call for different modes of accounting for life in the contemporary moment.
About the Speaker
Nikhil Anand is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the political ecology of cities, read through the different lives of water. His first book, Hydraulic City examines the everyday ways in which cities and citizens are made through the daily management of water pipes in Mumbai. In 2018, the book received the Best Book in Urban Affairs Award from the Urban Affairs Association, and Honorable Mentions for the James M Blaut Award for the best book in Cultural and Political Ecology, and the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology Book Prize.
He has published on water infrastructure, housing and roads in journals including Antipode, Cultural Anthropology, Economic and Political Weekly, Ethnography, and Public Culture. With Hannah Appel and Akhil Gupta, Dr Anand has co-edited The Promise of Infrastructure (Duke, 2018), which examines how infrastructures provide a generative ground to rethink temporality, politics and aspiration. His new research focuses on the Urban Sea, and the ways in which it is a site at which the future and history of Mumbai are currently being produced in anthropogenic waters. Dr Anand has a Master in Environmental Science from Yale University and a PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University.