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Living Amidst Wetness: Fisher Resistance to the Real Estate City in Mumbai
April 8, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
What does it mean to inhabit a city propelled by real estate and yet live amidst wetness? Dr. Lalitha Kamath explores this question through the experiences of Mumbai’s indigenous fishing community, the Kolis who simultaneously inhabit two cities, two Mumbais, that are entangled in dynamic tension. The first city is of indigenous knowledge and lived experience of Mumbai and of the sea that comes from living according to the rhythm of rising and falling water levels. This relation with sea and land transcends the fixity and claims of propertied ownership. The second city emerges from the Koli’s encounters with the real-estate, propertied city, one driven by the imperatives of capitalism.
Today, the city of the sea seems set to be consumed by the city of real estate: a story told through fisher experiences of infrastructure projects that capture the sea and coasts, and embodied understandings of toxicity, surveillance and catches of garbage. The fishers’ slow estrangement from the sea is, however, marked by struggle. In a time of rising waters, Koli resistance may provide new idioms to understand struggles for justice and how we may reimagine the fundamental relationships with which habitation is being (un)made.