"Leaks and the Hydraulic City", Nikhil Anand (University of Pennsylvania)
Regenzzimmer 111, Kollegienhaus, Petersplatz 1
Nikhil Anand will present a portion from his recent book, Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructure of Citizenship in Mumbai. Anand explores the politics of Mumbai’s water infrastructure to demonstrate how citizenship emerges through the continuous efforts to control, maintain, and manage the city's water. The book demonstrates how Mumbai’s water flows, not through a static collection of pipes and valves, but through a dynamic infrastructure built on the relations between residents, plumbers, politicians, engineers, and the 3,000 miles of pipe that bind them. In addition to distributing water, the public water network often reinforces social identities and the exclusion of marginalized groups, as only those actively recognized by city agencies receive legitimate water services.
Nikhil Anand is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. His work focuses on the political ecology of urban infrastructures, and the social and material relations that they entail. He examines how natural resources and specific figurations of the public are mobilized to assemble urban development and environmental projects in Mumbai.
Infrastructures are the constitutive fabric of both cities and non-cities, enabling exchanges of knowledge, material resources, cultural practices, and people. This lecture series proposes to consider infrastructures not so much as mechanisms of “development” but as the interface between developmental agenda and forces of adaptation, creativity, and contestation. Through the disciplinary lenses of art, architecture, history, and the social sciences, we will consider the complex relations between infrastructures as seen from above, below, and in-between.
The lecture series is sponsored by the new Master’s program in Critical Urbanisms at the University of Basel. The program foregrounds both the heterogeneity of urban life and the multiplicity of ways in which human beings seek to make sense of it. Interrogating perceived oppositions—between global North and South, center and periphery, global and local, and urban and rural—the program draws together critical and reflective approaches from the humanities, social sciences and design disciplines so as to address the complexities of urban lifeworlds in the 21st century.
The lecture series “Infrastructure from Above and Below” is organised by Urban Studies at the University of Basel in collaboration with eikones NFS Bildkritik, the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum, and with generous support by the Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft Basel.