Organized Panel Session
Indian cities have no doubt become attuned to the rhythms of global capital. The meta-narratives of globalization do indeed capture certain rough contours of the dynamics of Indian urbanism. But, as Prakash (2013, 2) reminds us, “Urban dwellers experience their globally situated and connected urban space as decidedly local lifeworlds, thick with specific experiences, practices, and memories.” It is our contention that these lifeworlds crystallize around particular objects, personas, and rituals. This interdisciplinary panel explores ways of being in the city not captured by sure-footed global narrative. What might it mean to ground an account of the urban in its marginalia, peripheral spaces, and forgotten objects, actors, and practices; to look for something always just slipping away? What forgotten materials, ignored practices, hidden assertions, or creative reinventions might explain how constrained urban conditions get expanded to open up new possibilities? Documenting forgotten objects, actors, and practices that navigate precarious conditions, we use an observational disposition attentive to the aesthetics of the ordinary and informed by a curiosity to see life emerging differently. It seeks to collect the stories that have fallen between the cracks of global narrative and those practices that, while pushed to the edges of roadways and government plans, can be found nestled in the traffic island where the pariah dwells. The focus here is on resourcefulness as much as fragility, and uses precarity less as a diagnostic and more as an exegetical method, an entry point for analyzing how things persist and hang together, or fall apart.