Autobiographies and Automobilities in India
- PUBLISHED: February 2022
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / South Asia, Anthropology
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 248 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 4 b&w illus., 1 map
- SERIES: Global South Asia
- ISBN: 9780295749860
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
In this first book-length study of Mumbai’s taxi industry and of the livelihoods that surround it, Tarini Bedi draws from the lives and voices of chillia taxi drivers who have sustained a hereditary trade for more than a century. Bedi considers the Bombay taxi in all its forms: a material object that is driven, an economic and political connection, an expression of kinship, an embodiment of urban time and technology, and more. She illustrates how the accumulation of capital in this masculinized and mobile trade depends on forms of fixed domestic labor and an ethics of care, and how connections among these factors impact the production and reshaping of working-class personhood and laboring subjects. From beginning to end, the world of Mumbai automobility unfolds through depiction of the sensory, embodied, and political domains of taxi drivers’ work.
While most understandings of automobility remain tied to Western assumptions, patterns of driving, (sub)urbanization, and engagements with the road, realities in the Global South differ. Mumbai Taximen provides a correction to this imbalance from Mumbai through a timely exploration of South Asian social, material, political, labor, and technological histories and practices of motoring and automobility.
Authors & Contributors
Tarini Bedi is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is author of The Dashing Ladies of Shiv Sena: Political Matronage in Urbanizing India.
A landmark book across a range of disciplines, and it makes for compelling and enjoyable reading.- Asian Studies Review
Mumbai Taximen accomplishes several things. While it offers an ethnographic account of an automobility that is part of a distinctively non-Western mode of capitalism, first and foremost it constitutes an intriguing case study of how a vehicle may be appropriated as a metaphor of social identity and moral agency...[T]he book includes sharply drawn vignettes that bring us into the practices and concerns of daily life. These will make the volume especially useful in the classroom.- Ethnos
A rich and considered study. I cannot think of another book that takes us on such a compelling journey through the streets of the city, via taxi.- Kristin V. Monroe, author of The Insecure City: Space, Mobility, and Power in Beirut
In a world that strives to be contactless, Tarini Bedi shows how driving can be an intensely corporeal experience. This ethnography of the Mumbai taxi trade shows that operating a taxi involves so much more than shuttling passengers from point A to B. The work can include maintaining old cars, securing access to space, managing officialdom, sensing the street and managing complex community dynamics. In an important corrective to automobility literature that emphasizes the way driving disconnects and alienates, this captivating book shows how driving can be a way of dwelling in the city.- Jonathan S. Anjaria, author of The Slow Boil: Street Food, Rights, and Public Space in Mumbai