Infrastructural Visibility: The Political Performance of Transport in Contemporary Mumbai

15 January 2014, 14:30 - 16:30

CRASSH Seminar room SG2, Ground floor

Andrew Harris (University College London)

This paper uses an empirical focus on transport projects in contemporary Mumbai to challenge the assumption that urban infrastructural networks have become increasingly physically, geographically and culturally invisible. The paper argues that large elevated transport structures have been constructed in Mumbai over the last fifteen years as much for their visibility and infrastructural charisma as for their technocratic role in addressing issues of congestion. Politicians have been keen to use vertical transport projects as a means of demonstrating and promoting, across a broad range of social groups, their efforts at inculcating the spectacular, modern and world-class city. The political performance of four specific projects will be detailed: the 55 Flyover Project, the Bandra-Worli Sealink, the Mumbai Skywalk Project and the Thane Station Area Improvement Scheme. The paper concludes by exploring the implications of this important role for infrastructural visibility in making smaller-scale and more sustainable transport schemes politically viable.


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