Winner, 2014 Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences Despite Mumbai's position as India's financial, ecomic, and cultural capital, water is chronically unavailable for rich and poor alike. Mumbai's dry taps are puzzling, given that the city does t lack for either water or financial resources. In Pipe Politics, Contested Waters, Lisa Bjorkman shows how an elite dream to transform Mumbai into a world class business center has wreaked havoc on the city's water pipes. In rich ethgraphic detail, Pipe Politics explores how the everyday work of getting water animates and inhabits a penumbra of infrastructural activity-of business, brokerage, secondary markets, and sociopolitical networks-whose workings are reconfiguring and rescaling political authority in the city. Mumbai's increasingly illegible and volatile hydrologies, Bjorkman argues, are lending infrastructures increasing political salience just as actual control over pipes and flows becomes contingent on dispersed and intimate assemblages of kwledge, power, and material authority. These new arenas of contestation reveal the illusory and precarious nature of the project to remake Mumbai in the image of Shanghai or Singapore and gesture instead toward the highly contested futures and democratic possibilities of the actually existing city.
Lisa Bjorkman is Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs at University of Louisville, and Research Scholar at CETREN (Transregional Research Network), University of Gottingen.