Lisa Björkman ed., "Bombay Brokers" (Duke UP, 2021)

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A political party worker who produces crowds for electoral rallies. A “prison specialist” who serves other people’s prison sentences in exchange for a large fee. An engineer who is able to secure otherwise impossible building permits. These and other dealmakers—whose behind-the-scenes expertise and labor are often invisible—have an intrinsic role in the city's functioning and can be indispensable for navigating everyday life in Bombay, one of the world’s most complex, dynamic, and populous cities. Bombay Brokers collects profiles of thirty-six such “brokers.” Written by anthropologists, artists, city planners, and activists, these character sketches bring into relief the paradox that these brokers’ knowledge and labor are simultaneously invisible yet essential for Bombay’s functioning. Their centrality reveals the global-scale paradoxes and gaps that these brokers mediate and bridge. In this way, Bombay Brokers (Duke UP, 2021) prompts a reconsideration of what counts as legitimate and valuable knowledge and labor while offering insight into changing structures of power in Bombay and around the globe.

Sneha Annavarapu is Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at Yale-NUS College. To know more about Sneha's work, please visit www.snehanna.com

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