Materiality

Materiality

The material life of cities range from its ecological composition to the flows of labour, commodities and capital.  But what might it mean to look at material flows in ethnographic and ecological terms?  What kinds of urban analytics emerge when we take the urban not so much as embedded in nature but as co-constituted by the ecological from the very outset?

Our work disaggregates urban nature in order to account for the variegated constitution of urban ecologies.  These entail the cultivated, including livestock and poultry reared in a range of settings from industrial agriculture and urban barnyards in London, to metropolitan dairies and informal settlements in Delhi and Guwahati.  Urban ecologies can also be feral, which lies in between the domestic and the wild.  Our work on ferality entails etho-ethnographies of London’s parakeets, as well as the lives of street dogs in Delhi and Guwahati that challenge normative accounts of domesticity.  The wild involves commensals such as urban macaques and the foxes that now thrive in London.  Each of these are differentially enmeshed in relations with people, infrastructure and the built environment.  They are subjected to distinct regimes of governance and control.  The cultivated, feral and the wild foster comparison and generate new understandings of the politics and flows of material life.