Brings to life the smells, sounds, vibrations, discomforts, and joys of taxi travel in India’s largest city
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.