Infrastructure and Logistics

Gendered infrastructure and liminal space in Delhi’s unauthorized colonies

This paper takes an embodied approach to the lived experiences and everyday politics of liminal neighborhoods and infrastructures in Delhi’s unauthorized colonies, which lack official entitlements to networked infrastructures such as water and sewerage. Bringing a feminist political ecology lens to critical infrastructure studies, I show how gendered social relations, subjectivities, and the unequal experience of urban liminality are tied to accessing water and its fragmented infrastructures beyond the network. In particular, liminal infrastructural space is produced in unauthorized colonies through not only these neighborhoods’ quasi-legal status and unequal access to urban water, but also through gendered discourses and the socially differentiated ways water infrastructures are co-produced, managed, and made livable by residents. As water is primarily accessed beyond the network via tubewells and tankers, I demonstrate how these fractured modalities ultimately constitute gendered infrastructural assemblages that enable water’s circulation across neighborhoods but also serve to deepen forms of gendered marginality and differentiation. Here, gendered infrastructural practices and labor to negotiate and supplement fragmented components of water infrastructure shape subjectivities and possibilities for social relations and urban claims-making. These infrastructural assemblages expose both the situated experience of urban liminality, as well as its transcendent possibilities.

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Volume 39 Issue 6

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