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The Politics of Open Defecation: Informality, Body, and Infrastructure in Mumbai

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Graham



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This paper examines the politics of open defecation by focusing on everyday intersections of the body and infrastructure in the metabolic city, which produces profoundly unequal opportunities for fulfilling bodily needs. Specifically, it examines how open defecation emerges in Mumbai's informal settlements through everyday embodied experiences, practices and perceptions forged in relation to the materialities of informality and infrastructure. It does so by tracing the micropolitics of provision, access, territoriality and control of sanitation infrastructures; everyday routines and rhythms, both of people and infrastructures; and experiences of disgust and perceptions of dignity. It also examines open defecation as embodied spatial and temporal improvisations in order to investigate the socially differentiated efforts and risks that it entails. More broadly, the paper seeks to deepen understandings of the relationship between the body, infrastructure and the sanitary/unsanitary city.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Desai R, McFarlane C, Graham S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Antipode

Year: 2015

Volume: 47

Issue: 1

Pages: 98-120

Print publication date: 01/01/2015

Online publication date: 22/08/2014

Acceptance date: 17/02/2014

Date deposited: 30/09/2014

ISSN (print): 0066-4812

ISSN (electronic): 1467-8330

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/anti.12117


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