ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Muslim Butchers in Urban India

Marginal Occupations and Modernising Cities

On 29 October 2009, the Supreme Court of India passed a judgment ordering the final closure of the 95-year-old Idgah abattoir in Delhi. The abattoir was shifted to a mechanised modern plant in the eastern fringes of the city. Using the issue of relocation and modernisation as a starting point, this essay addresses the impact of planning and transformation of urban spaces on traditional and marginal occupations. Located in a multi-sited ethnography of the working lives of people in the meat sector, it emphasises the complexities of understanding an entangled reality. Butchers live and work in an intricate web of social, spatial and occupational relations. Hence, spatial and technologicalrelocation is not only about losing skill sets and livelihoods. It challenges the very access to labour and uproots people from social and emotional spaces critical for stigmatised and marginal occupations who draw strength and support from familiar landscapes.

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