Feminist, Queer and Trans Geographies

Urban commons to private property: Gendered environments in Mumbai’s fisher communities

The enclosure of urban ecological commons into private property has facilitated the growth of the neoliberal service sector in Mumbai, India. These changes are brought forth through a reworking of communally managed land into narrowly understood public space, which has paved the way for private development. At the helm of Mumbai’s urbanization is a power alliance between state and elite non-state actors across colonial and neoliberal regimes. The process has gravely impacted subsistence and livelihood activities of fisher communities residing in proximity to the development, disproportionately affecting fisherwomen. This paper centers fisherwomen’s urban worlds to analyze the uneven legibility of existing spatial patterns. Across various scales, the categorical and material reworking of land–water commons has reduced resource availability. Women bear a greater, although underrecognized, burden in maintaining lives and livelihoods within this changing landscape. The relative illegibility of fisherwomen’s spaces, however, allows some everyday activities to continue unnoticed despite ongoing processes of enclosure. My analysis of the enclosure of urban ecological commons and its gendered dimensions advances a dialogue between intersectional feminist and urban political ecology on colonial–neoliberal continuities, categorical exclusions in public–private binaries, and gendered urban environments.

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Volume 39 Issue 2

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