In Hydraulic City Nikhil Anand explores the politics of Mumbai's water infrastructure to demonstrate how citizenship emerges through the continuous efforts to control, maintain, and manage the city's water. Through extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Mumbai's settlements, Anand found that Mumbai's water flows, not through a static collection of pipes and valves, but through a dynamic infrastructure built on the relations between residents, plumbers, politicians, engineers, and the 3,000 miles of pipe that bind them. In addition to distributing water, the public water network often reinforces social identities and the exclusion of marginalized groups, as only those actively recognized by city agencies receive legitimate water services. This form of recognition—what Anand calls "hydraulic citizenship"—is incremental, intermittent, and reversible. It provides residents an important access point through which they can make demands on the state for other public services such as sanitation and education. Tying the ways Mumbai's poorer residents are seen by the state to their historic, political, and material relations with water pipes, the book highlights the critical role infrastructures play in consolidating civic and social belonging in the city.
The Promise of Infrastructure
Nikhal Anand, Akhil Gupta, and Hannah Appel, editors Duke University Press, 2018 Library of Congress HC79.C3P78 2018
From U.S.-Mexico border walls to Flint's poisoned pipes, there is a new urgency to the politics of infrastructure. Roads, electricity lines, water pipes, and oil installations promise to distribute the resources necessary for everyday life. Yet an attention to their ongoing processes also reveals how infrastructures are made with fragile and often violent relations among people, materials, and institutions. While infrastructures promise modernity and development, their breakdowns and absences reveal the underbelly of progress, liberal equality, and economic growth. This tension, between aspiration and failure, makes infrastructure a productive location for social theory. Contributing to the everyday lives of infrastructure across four continents, some of the leading anthropologists of infrastructure demonstrate in The Promise of Infrastructure how these more-than-human assemblages made over more-than-human lifetimes offer new opportunities to theorize time, politics, and promise in the contemporary moment.
A School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar
Contributors. Nikhil Anand, Hannah Appel, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Dominic Boyer, Akhil Gupta, Penny Harvey, Brian Larkin, Christina Schwenkel, Antina von Schnitzler