ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Quest for Water

Muslims at Mumbai’s Periphery

An ethnography of everyday life in Shivaji Nagar, a predominantly Muslim slum locality in Mumbai, illustrates how its "Muslimness" complicates the residents' access to water, a commodified and politicised amenity. The struggles of local Muslims to access water also involve holding the state accountable through localised "mundane" politics at the periphery. The state's inability to address the differential access to water is challenged through locally elected political representatives. The paper also explores the role of "intermediaries" who are accused of being the "water mafia" by the state and the English media and argues that they play an important role in making the state accessible through acts of subversion and collaboration.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the South Asian Anthropology Group meeting on “South Asian Culture(s) in Movement: Borders, Social Mobility and Identity”, University of Oxford, 3 September 2010. I would like to thank Mukulika Banerjee and Peter van der Veer for their comments on earlier versions of this paper. Any errors in the paper remain my own.

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