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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Desai, R., McFarlane, C. & Graham, S. The politics of open defecation: informality, body, and infrastructure in Mumbai. Antipode. 2015;47:98-120.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper examines the politics of open defecation by focusing on everyday intersections of the body and infrastructure in the metabolic city, which produces profoundly unequal opportunities for fulfilling bodily needs. Specifically, it examines how open defecation emerges in Mumbai's informal settlements through everyday embodied experiences, practices and perceptions forged in relation to the materialities of informality and infrastructure. It does so by tracing the micropolitics of provision, access, territoriality and control of sanitation infrastructures; everyday routines and rhythms, both of people and infrastructures; and experiences of disgust and perceptions of dignity. It also examines open defecation as embodied spatial and temporal improvisations in order to investigate the socially differentiated efforts and risks that it entails. More broadly, the paper seeks to deepen understandings of the relationship between the body, infrastructure and the sanitary/unsanitary city.

Department of Geography