Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of California / Davis

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Davis
The City in Flux: Navigating Urbanism(s) through Waterways in Goa, India

In contrast to an urban anthropology that privileges land, this proposal takes waterways as central to the cultural production of urban space. It focuses on the coastal city of Panaji in Goa, India and the contested conceptualizations of 'water-based urbanism' (Shannon 2013) emerging as the city tries to achieve ecological stability while rapidly urbanizing. Recent ecological disasters in urban areas have brought to the fore the role waterways play in shaping cities. Waterways have long been considered the 'lifeline' of Goa generating significant wealth for the state. In recent years, waterway pollution and extensive flooding in Panaji have sharpened the focus on the city's waterways. In an effort to achieve some measure of ecological balance, urban planners in Goa have turned to 'water based urbanism' -the design of cities around or interwoven with the function and fluidity of waterways- to re-design the capital city Panaji. A prominent example is the 'Imagine Panaji' plan released in 2013. I use the interactions surrounding this plan as a point of departure to ask how the contestations, conflicts and the debates that emerge over water-based urbanisms reconfigure the socio- cultural, economic and environmental fabric of Panaji. To investigate this I will conduct fieldwork among offshore casino workers, fishers, urban planners and city residents. These diverse perspectives deliver a valuable insight into the contests and coalitions that emerge as Panaji utilizes its oceanic and riverine past to comprehend and deal with its current ecological quandary. This presents unique ways of conceptualising ecologically sensitive urban development in India while simultaneously underscoring the fluid and contested location of Goa within the Indian nation-state and a postcolonial Indian Ocean world.