ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fishing Commons and Survival in Capitalist Mumbai

Set Adrift: Capitalist Transformations and Community Politics along Mumbai’s Shore by Gayatri Nair, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2021; pp 202, `1,295 (hardbound).

Set Adrift: Capitalist Transformations and Community Politics along Mumbai’s Shore by Gayatri Nair, an outcome of her PhD research work among the Koli fishing community of Mumbai, is a study of their struggles for a livelihood in an ever-changing world transformed by capital. The book gives a detailed analysis of the transformations within the community over the years with changes brought in by education and the changing nature of work, identity politics and mobilisations among the Kolis for a recognition of their work and their place in Mumbai’s development. As the author underlines, the book foregrounds the local-level transformations within and between the Koli community that lives off fishing and hence the sea commons and its relations with the city as it is transformed by global capitalist changes.

The book consists of six chapters (excluding the introduction and conclusion) that set out the main themes of the book. The author starts off by outlining the theoretical premise of the book with a detailed analysis of urban transformation of Mumbai with the accumulation of capital. Further, the book traces the transformation of the city from a quiet fishing village to a bustling port city under colonial rule, to a site of manufacturing with the textile mills and presently transformed to a financial hub. The author uses David Harvey’s concept of accumulation by dispossession to understand the predicament of the Koli fisherfolk in the face of this transformation of their city. The interlinkages between capitalism, migration and urbanisation and the resulting nativist politics in Mumbai are also highlighted.

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Updated On : 7th Nov, 2022
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