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Nocturnal Microsites in the Emergent City: African Kitchens in Metropolitan Delhi


· Bani Gill University of Oxford (Oxford, United Kingdom)


07/28 | 09:20-09:40 UTC+2/CEST


The turn of the 21st century has seen a rising trend of migration from the African continent to India, several of whom arrive as traders, students, medical tourists and asylum seekers. Despite longer histories of circulation and movement, African migrants constitute a hyper-visible entry on India’s social landscape and fractious exchanges and racial tensions have accompanied this migration, especially in urban spaces. Amidst the context of racialized hostility and rapid urban transformations ongoing in metropolitan Delhi, how do African migrants navigate daily life in interstitial spaces of the city? How do these everyday practices, in their interaction with legal norms, built forms, sociocultural rhythms and spatiotemporal landscapes of the city, further an understanding of the urban as dynamically inhabited? Drawing upon 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork with West African migrants living in an unplanned settlement of Delhi between 2015-2017, this paper traces African migrants’ place making practices and the emergence of “new” nocturnal microsites that serve as repositories of experiences, connections, performances and improvisations that reshape and remake the city anew.