Concern over sustainable development and urban water allocation is growing worldwide. Moreover, within the context of climate change, many presently socially marginalized populations are at even greater risk for future water crisis. It is critically important to understand not only the present water practices of marginalized populations, but also how their social status also affects their relationship to water. This study, grounded in eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, traces the changing patterns of water allocation and water ethoi of the water-poor. The findings suggest that water is used as a signal of class identity and although the water-poor are typically seen as a homogenous unit, there is variation in the adoption of urban water practices. It argues that the contemporary anthropological language for global flows does not explain the rich negotiations of water values, identity and local spaces. It interjects a new metaphor of absorption to explain global flows. As approximately 1,000 people in-migrate Delhi, India each day, the vast majority to informal housing with limited water access, this overlooked population stands to drastically impact the urban waterscape.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2014. Major: Anthropology. Advisors: William Beeman, David Lipset. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 310 pages.
Uneven Absorption: World-Class Delhi, Domestic Workers, and the Water that Makes Them.
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