In this talk I will present an overview of my recently published book, Hydraulic City. Drawing attention to the ways in which settlers in Mumbai establish access to water in the city, I begin by showing that urban citizenship is not an event in linear time, but a fickle, distributed and reversible process. Next, I attend to the ways in which water leaks in the public system. Rather than theorize this leakage as ‘loss’, I argue that it is constitutive of the water infrastructure in cities. Neither fully in the water engineers’ control, nor out of their domain, leaks are vital sites not only for the making of political authority, but also of lives that are rendered marginal and illegal by the rules of the city. Based on over two years of ethnographic fieldwork with city water engineers, social workers, politicians, plumbers and urban residents, Hydraulic City demonstrates how water infrastructures are critical sites for the making of cities and citizenship
Nikhil Anand is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the political ecology of cities, read through the different lives of water. His first book, Hydraulic City focuses on the everyday ways in which cities and citizens are made through the everyday management of water infrastructure in Mumbai. Articles based on this research have also been published in Antipode, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnography and Public Culture. With Hannah Appel and Akhil Gupta, Dr. Anand is co-editor of a forthcoming volume, The Promise of Infrastructure (forthcoming with Duke University Press), that focuses on the ways in which infrastructure provides a generative ground to theorize time and politics. Dr. Anand has a Masters in Environmental Science from Yale University and a PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University.