Bombay Brokers

Bombay Brokers

Book Pages: 472 Illustrations: 33 illustrations Published: May 2021

Anthropology, Asian Studies > South Asia, Sociology > Urban Studies

A political party worker who produces crowds for electoral rallies. A “prison specialist” who serves other people’s prison sentences in exchange for a large fee. An engineer who is able to secure otherwise impossible building permits. These and other dealmakers—whose expertise and labor are often considered morally suspect—can be indispensable for navigating everyday life in Bombay, one of the world’s most complex, dynamic, and populous cities. Bombay Brokers collects profiles of thirty-six such “brokers.” Written by anthropologists, artists, city planners, and activists, these character sketches bring into relief the paradox that these brokers’ knowledge and labor are ethically fraught yet essential for Bombay’s functioning. Their centrality reveals the global-scale paradoxes and gaps that these brokers mediate and bridge. In this way, Bombay Brokers prompts a reconsideration of what counts as legitimate and valuable knowledge and labor while offering insight into changing structures of power in Bombay and around the globe.

Contributors. Anjali Arondekar, Sarthak Bagchi, Tobias Baitsch, Sangeeta Banerji, Srimati Basu, Tarini Bedi, Amita Bhide, Lisa Björkman, Uday Chandra, Simon Chauchard, Ka-Kin Cheuk, Michael Collins, Daisy Deomampo, Maura Finkelstein, Ajay Gandhi, Rupali Gupte, Kathryn C. Hardy, Lalitha Kamath, Prasad Khanolkar, Bhushan Korgaonkar, Ratoola Kundu, Ken Kuroda, Annelies Kusters, Lisa Mitchell, Shailaja Paik, Gautam Pemmaraju, Lubaina Rangwala, Llerena Guiu Searle, Atreyee Sen, Prasad Shetty, Rohan Shivkumar, Edward Simpson, David Strohl, Rachel Sturman, R. Swaminathan, Aneri Taskar, Yaffa Truelove, Sahana Udupa, Lalit Vachani, Leilah Vevaina


“Lisa Björkman's collection Bombay Brokers offers a brilliantly multivocal account of the many worlds of practical negotiation and embodied expertise that animate urban life in one of India's most dynamic, polarized cities. Just as importantly, it is a remarkable work of collaborative ethnography that forges a distinctive methodological strategy through which to illuminate the crises and contradictions of contemporary urbanism in Bombay and beyond.” — Neil Brenner, Urban Theory Lab, University of Chicago

“This remarkable edited collection is a commendable contribution to the study of the links between mediation and intermediation, thus linking a venerable tradition of political anthropology with vivid portraits of the agency of brokers. It brings Bombay to life in ways that will surely inform the comparative study of fixers in other large cities caught in the flux of globalization.” — Arjun Appadurai, Paulette Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University


Availability: Not in Stock
Price: $31.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lisa Björkman is Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Louisville, Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, and author of Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai, also published by Duke University Press, and Waiting Town: Life in Transit and Mumbai's Other World-Class Histories.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  viii
Introduction. Ethnography in the Global Interregnum / Lisa Björkman  1
Part I. Development / Rachel Sturman  47
1. Bunty: Singh Builder of Dreams / Lalitha Kamath  59
2. Imran: Housing Contractor / Tobias Baitsch  68
3. Dalpat: Manager of Services / Lisa Björkman  78
4. Mehmoodbhai: Toilet Operator / Prasad Khanolkar  87
5. Kaushal: Land Agglomerator / Llerena Guiu Searle  95
6. Janu: Sister-Supervisor of Migrant Construction Workers / Uday Chandra  101
Part II. Property. Lisa Björkman  109
7. Dr. K: Middle-Class Social Worker / Yaffa Truelove  121
8. Ashok Ravat: Shivaji Park's Sentinel / Lalit Vachani  128
9. Shazia: Proof Maker / Sangeeta Banerji  137
10. Nirmala: Kamathipura's Gatekeeper / Ratoola Kunda  145
11. Farhad: "Sue Maker" / Leilah Vevaina  154
Part III. Business / Tarini Bedi  163
12. Ramita: Surrogacy Agent / Daisy Deomampo  175
13. Muhammad: Revalorizer of E-Waste / Aneri Taskar  182
14. Deepak: Making Mumbai (in China) / Ka-Kin Cheuk  191
15. Lubaina: Framing "Development" / Lubaina Rangwala  199
16. Shankar: Delivering Authenticity / Ken Kuroda  208
17. Manal-Muna: Cooking Up Value / Tarini Bedi  216
18. Ramji: Business Energizer / Lisa Björkman  224
Part IV. Difference / Anjali Arondekar  233
19. Bhimsen Gaikwad: Singer of Justice / Shailaja Paik  243
20. Sultan: Image Manager / David J. Strohl  253
21. Raj: Carting Cosmopolitanism / Maura Finkelstein  262
22. Laxmi: Dealer in Emotion / R. Swaminathan  270
23. Dharamsey: Assembler of Tradition / Edward Simpson  278
24. Dalvi: Speaker of Cities / Gautam Pemmaraju  286
Part V. Publics / Lisa Björkman and Michael Collins  297
25. Shashi: Dot Connector / Rohan Shivkumar  307
26. Anil Prakash: Amplifier of Cinema-Industrial Connections / Kathryn Hardy  315
27. Gauravpant Mishra: Crowd Maker / Sarthak Bagchi 322
28. Srinivasan: Kingmaker / Simon Chauchard  329
29. Madhu: Door Opener / Bhushan Korgaonkar  337
30. Poornima: Designing Relations / Ajay Gandhi  347
Part VI. Truth / Lisa Björkman  355
31. Rajani Pandit: Detector of "Truths" / Srimati Basu  367
32. Afzal Taximan: Rumor Navigator / Sahana Udupa  378
33. Pawan: Prison Master / Atreyee Sen  384
34. Sujit: Master Communicator / Annelies Kusters  391
35. Chadda: Report Maker / Prasad Shetty & Rupali Gupte  401
36. Prakash: Data Entrepreneur / Amita Bhide  405
Conclusion. Other Places, Other Times / Lisa Mitchell  414
Glossary  425
About the Contributors  437
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1149-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1053-1