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Wet Histories - Fisher Stories that Reimagine Mumbai’s Coast


May 30 2024 to May 30 2024 6:30 p.m.


Bangalore International Centre

7 4th Main Rd, Stage 2, Domlur 560071

Event Description

Consisting of a complex of hazardous port-related industries and marginalised populations, Mumbai’s east coast was first produced as a site for furthering British imperial designs and later Indian nationalist ambitions. More recent government interventions seek to (re)value this industrial landscape through new infrastructure that prioritises marine logistics, real estate development and ecotourism. Both these imaginaries of the East Coast replay older capitalist projects of land reclamation and ‘forgetting’ its watery history (Bhattacharya, 2018). They also cast aside those whose paradigm of habitation is opposed to the fixity and pollution that propertied ownership and industrialization demands, such as the indigenous fishing community of Kolis. Yet fishing villages of the Kolis dot the coast, revealing older, now forgotten, traditions of inhabitation based on ‘living amidst wetness’ (Mathur and Da Cunha, 2018).

This talk foregrounds their stories to help recover worlds that relate to the movement, relations and knowledge mediated by water as opposed to land, pollution and propertied ownership. These stories are a powerful way to reimagine the wet history of the city. Dwelling in these wet histories urges new dialogues, collaborations and public action to address the environmental and climate crisis and reclaim other ways of being for Coast and City. The talk draws on ethnographic work (since 2017), film footage, and photographs. It is part of a larger research project on Climate Stories that seeks to democratise climate planning in Mumbai and is building a digital exhibition that will be launched later this year.

A Q&A with the audience will follow.


Lalitha Kamath Professor, School of Habitat Studies, TISS, Mumbai Lalitha Kamath is an urbanist who teaches at the School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has written on the politics and uneven impacts of urban governance, planning and infrastructure. She has also engaged with questions of public participation and social mobilizations in her writing and through membership in different city collectives. Since 2017, she has been engaged in ethnographic work in fishing communities on Mumbai’s east coast to understand changing conceptions of urban climates, inhabitation, and value at the water’s edge.

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