“In Mumbai, public slumber is one way the urban poor reclaim space”


“Public sleeping can be seen as one way that people who are denied access to spaces of their own resist and subvert state-sanctioned limitations of private housing. In Salaam Bombay!, the quest for sleep dramatizes the radical challenge to urban space that public communal slumber represents…In a climate torn by a genocidal wiping of impoverished presence from public spaces, sleeping on unclaimed ground becomes an act of resistance. Squatters insist on their rights to comfort, pleasure and restful sleep, even at serious risk. In her report The Case of Mumbai, India, the architect Neelima Risbud notes that since the late 1980s, ‘the most insecure group’ in terms of access to housing or tenure are recently migrated ‘pavement dwellers’ in ‘un-notified slums and squatter settlements.’ A result of the wave of communalization and gentrification of inner-city land, squatter presence in neighborhoods became either threats to or opportunities for erasure by the state.”

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