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Accepted Paper:

A moving sight: lining up for Mumbai's Siddhivinayak temple  
Markha Valenta (University of Amsterdam)

Paper long abstract:

The classic narrative would have us understand modernity as the anti-sedentary. If, however, we read the multiplicity of modernity not only socio-geographically but in relation to time, speed, and scale it becomes clear that the play between mobility and sedentariness involves not so much an opposition between the modern and its others as contests over the distribution of dis/continuity, mobility and at-home-ness in relation to such modern projects as the nation-state, consumer capitalism and cosmopolitan desires for polymorphous arousal and critique.

This paper will offer such a reading through the evolving practices of one of India's richest and most successful sites of religious, political and celebrity worship, Mumbai's Siddhivinayak temple. Its rise since the 1990s is closely enmeshed with the transformation of flows of people and money unleashed by India's insertion into global liberalization. It now draws 200,000 visitors a day from across city, nation and world, famous actors, sports stars and politicians, as well as infamous suspects of rape and terrorism. The apartment towers nearby nurture a new middle class - ejecting the working classes - with an eye to property values and balcony-enlightenment. The temple's success simultaneously makes it a terrorist target, resulting in a prominent security wall that disrupts the movement of people, businesses and commuters, along with airport-like security systems and Israeli-trained security personnel. Seeking to manage streams of people who are as dangerous as they are vital, the temple now inserts itself into the newest global regimes of immobility.

Panel W119
Indiascapes: reflections of contemporary India
  Session 1