2020 Urban Fellow
Research Topic: Water Resources
Faculty Advisor: Michael DoveKalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Writing on the Waters: The Changing Waterscape of India’s Thirsty Capital City
For my dissertation research, combining urban ethnography with perspectives from the environmental humanities and sciences, I will ask: how are water and waterbodies in Delhi managed, or not, to service the city’s biophysical needs as well as to nourish its cultural aspirations? My research will examine Delhi’s changing ‘waterscape,’ by which I mean the waterbodies and water systems, natural and built, that are entangled in contemporary struggles over water resources, and embedded in the ecological, cultural and historical landscape of settlement and rule in India’s capital city. I will explore how people relate to water, waterbodies, and water systems, as resource and heritage, through an ethnographic study of waterbody rejuvenation and other water-access innovations being made by the Delhi Government, NGOs, and individuals, as well as resident associations and urban conservationists. The project will therefore investigate how the city’s pragmatic concerns of water availability and distribution are entangled with its natural-cultural heritage, and attempt to reveal and understand water as ecological relations, cultural politics, and contested natural resource in the making of urban places and lives in India.