Recent debates around bar dancing in Mumbai shed light on the connection between class, space, and intimate labor in a global city. Dance bars emerged as morally suspect spaces alongside the decline of Mumbai as an industrial city and its development as a global financial and entertainment capital. For a brief period, women bar dancers were able to make a living in the peripheral spaces that opened up during Mumbai's transformation into a global city, but their livelihoods were undercut when they were banned in 2005 as a “moral threat” to the city. The author argues that central to the moral hysteria around bar dancing was the perception that bars were places where cash was hypervisible. The uneasy and contradictory relationship between unregulated and “unproductive” cash and “productive” capital was highly visible in the debates around the ban. The control of space required to make Mumbai a global city also created conditions of material and moral dispossession for poor and working-class women. Courtroom arguments on the ban had greater implications for the fate of people disposed by the ban and living in the “shadow spaces” of the city's margins.
1 February 2016
Chaitanya Lakkimsetti; “From Dance Bars to the Streets”: Moral Dispossession and Eviction in Mumbai. positions 1 February 2016; 24 (1): 205–230. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-3320113
Download citation file: