Accepted paper:

'No photos please'- counter-narratives of slumming in Mumbai


Gareth Jones (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Romola Sanyal (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers how slum tours represent poverty, enterprise and the urban experience. We problematise tours as forms of 'empathetic enrolment' and consider how from they operate as forms of ‘counter worlding’.

Paper long abstract:

A growing number of projects around the world attempt to draw visitors to view experiences of poverty, suffering and development. These projects range from slum and slavery theme parks, to tours of actual slums, refugee camps and sites of famine amongst others. Governments, NGOs and international development agencies are all engaged in constructing opportunities for 'empathetic enrolment', and which may manifest as charity and volunteerism. This paper considers how slum tours at a number of sites, but principally in Mumbai, represent poverty, enterprise and the urban experience. Drawing from participant observation as well as interviews with guides and organisers, the paper problematises the tour as a form of 'empathetic enrolment' reliant on colonial tropes and well-worn development narratives. We critically consider the tours from the perspective of 'counter worlding' and our conclusion connects the tour to an understanding of post-colonial urbanism.

panel MMM05
Commodifying urban poverty, social exclusion and marginalisation: spatial and social consequences (IUAES Commission on Urban Anthropology)