Penn Anthropology Colloquium: Nikhil Anand, 'Leaky States' (3/12/2012)

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For nearly all of its years since its founding, Mumbai’s water has been delivered to residents on a water supply schedule- a timetable set by the water department to deliver water. As management consultants begin to craft new improvement projects to deliver continuous water supply, in this paper I describe how and why engineers, city councilors and settlers oppose these projects. Pointing to the everyday practices through which water is accessed and made to leak, I point to a compromised, and differentially inclusive public system, one that is made through the powers of personal connections, rights claims and money. As water is made to flow through the politics and technologies of the city's water network, I show how leakage and ignorance are necessary to the workability of Mumbai's public system.