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Dwelling by persistence: an ethnography of everyday practices of footpath dwellers in Mumbai

Banerjee, Paroj (2018) Dwelling by persistence: an ethnography of everyday practices of footpath dwellers in Mumbai. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis examines how urban poor groups persist in environments that are physically dangerous while having no ‘legitimate’ claims over the place in which they dwell. Acknowledging the everyday vulnerabilities that footpath dwellers in Mumbai navigate, my research explores the lived experiences of groups that are dwelling by persistence. By using the term ‘dwell’, I am alluding both to attempts at seeking provisional shelter or even inhabiting a place, as well as to sustained practices of becoming enmeshed within the city’s geography, of using available material and social networks to hold on to place, and developing emotional ties with spaces that retain footpath dwellers’ ties with the city. These practices play themselves out in a city that has long been framed around two distinct narratives: as one of opportunity and of dispossession. Drawing from literatures on dwelling, home and urban navigations and contestations, I frame my key conceptual framework of dwelling by persistence. It is an embodied experience of existence rooted in place which is enabled through perseverance to retain one’s place. If dwelling entails remaining and creating place in spaces, persistence is about persevering through and sustaining these creations. Based on a year-long ethnography, my empirical chapters explore the three key contributions of my work. One, people foster emotional ties and regard the street as their home in order to endure the larger vulnerabilities of the city. Second, I argue that people navigate official and spatial obstacles to selectively make themselves visible in order to remain in the city. Third, I argue that in the presence of an ambiguous institutional realm, inherent in contradictions, people persist in between multifaceted contestations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Paroj Banerjee
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Mercer, Claire and Jones, Gareth A.

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