Urban and Urbanization

Anthroposea: Planning future ecologies in Mumbai’s wetscapes

In this article, I describe Mumbai’s sea as an “anthroposea” – a sea made with ongoing anthropogenic processes across landwaters – to draw attention to the ways in which it troubles both urban planning and the making of environmental futures. I focus on three moments in which Mumbai’s more-than-human life now emerges in the anthroposea. First, I describe the surprising proliferations of lobsters, gulls, and fishers in a sewage outfall. Second, I draw attention to the city’s flourishing flamingo population amidst industrial effluents in the city’s industrial zone. Finally, the article floats towards a popular city beach where citizen scientists at Marine Life of Mumbai show the ways in which the city’s phenomenal biodiversity is making homes in and with the city’s plastic waste. I argue that these ongoing and dynamic relations between urban waste and more-than-human life make unstable and tenuous the modernist distinctions of nature/culture on which environmental and urban projects depend. The anthroposea does not easily permit the making of near futures. Instead, by crossing spatial scales and epistemological boundaries, the anthroposea holds the city and its citizens in the muddy materialities of an ongoing present; a present in which the vitalities of waste are intransigent, permanent, and generate life in the city’s landwaters.

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Volume 41 Issue 4

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