Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationIllinois, Chicago, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9224
Approve DateApril 8, 2016
Project TitleBedi, Dr. Tarini, U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Everyday Technologies of the Urban: Motoring and Mobilities in Bombay/Mumbai's Taxi Trade'
The research examines contemporary transformations in motoring, automobilities and transport labor through the lens of the taxi-trade in globalizing Mumbai. Since the 1990s, when India’s formerly protected economy liberalized, there have been important shifts in how Indian cities seek their place on the ‘global’ stage. Transport systems are important sites at which these discourses and practices around globalization and modernization are focused. The taxi-trade in Mumbai is a rich site from which to explore new configurations between transport labor, politics and capital in cities of the global south. As Mumbai’s taxi-trade is being ‘modeled’ along the lines of Singapore and with the entrance of taxi models such as UBER it illuminates two important dynamics of transnationalism: how ideas about modern cities and urban infrastructures travel between cities in Asia, and how intra-Asian mobilities illuminate dynamics of globalization that circumvent the west; and how transnational models of mobility get reshaped and reimagined in other contexts. Empirically the project is driven by a focus on the labor, governance, and infrastructural aspects of taxis rather on the passenger experience. It examines efforts both from above (state officials, planners, consultants, corporate fleets) and below (taxi-drivers, mechanics, taxi-unions) that are vital in shaping the taxi-trade. Through interviews, observations, and extended engagements with these constituents, the work describes the many facets of the shifting taxi-industry in Mumbai. In examining conflicts and alliances between different social and political actors that constitute the taxi-trade and their efforts to resolve conflicting approaches to urban mobility, the project underscores the importance of looking at urban transport not simply as a material system but as one that inflects broader questions about political, cultural and mobile life of contemporary cities.