Martin Fuchs is going to present a working paper on ‚Precarious Belonging: Religious Options and Engagements with the World in a Metropolitan Context. The case of Dalits in Dharavi (Mumbai)‘

More than half of the population of metropolitan cities like Mumbai lives in spaces categorized as “slums”. Social marginalization can be seen as being overdetermined by territorial stigmatization. The fact that most of the urban subalterns, who represent the relatively largest share of the population, have largely to fend for themselves, and the general “informality” of the economy, find their parallel in the structures of local governance and in the social and religious fields. To a large extent (larger than among residents of middle-class suburbs) slum residents operate their religious lives and religious institutions on their own, make their own choices and maintain their own translocal networks. Taking the case of Dharavi, long labelled the largest slum of Asia, with a population of 1 million people on a little more than 2 square kilometres at the heart of Mumbai, the paper discusses the specific take of members of this widely neglected section of the populace, especially of Dalits, on questions of religion as well as urbanity. It offers an entry-point into the spectrum of options, preferences as well as modes of appropriation within the dense and diversified religious field of Dharavi (Mumbai) from the perspectives of both individuals as well as communities, or caste groups. It finally points to the little acknowledged difficulties scholarship has of understanding the perspectives and the position, and the implied relationship to the urban, of people whose life is shared between city and village, a very common practice among people connected to places like Dharavi.

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