At the turn of the 20th century, rural labor migrants began moving to the Indian city of Mumbai, sleeping in tenement buildings known as chawls and working around the clock at the city's many textile mills. The mill lands made Mumbai, transforming a fishing village into a bustling port city. But when the economy shifted in the 1950s, followed by massive mill closings and layoffs in the 1980s, this enclave of industrial workers began to fall apart. In contemporary Mumbai, old low lying textile mills and chawls are being developed into shopping malls, high rise apartment buildings, and luxury hotels, transforming the neighborhood into a space of elite residence and consumption. For contemporary industrial worker communities still residing in these neighborhoods, the disjunction between the occupied material space of mills and chawls and the looming material space of cranes and construction results in an occupation of place and time that diverges from the temporal expectations of progress and development. In this article, I argue that chawl life operates according to "chawl time," a temporal-spatial frame located between industrial and postindustrial time. In making this argument, I draw attention to how chawl residents exist in both this contemporary moment of rapid redevelopment and revitalization of former industrial spaces and a perceived past moment of industrial activity and working class stability. In doing so, this article reveals how anachronistic subjectivities are vital products of modernity.


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pp. 937-968
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