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Embodied Urbanisms: Corruption and the Ecologies of Eating and Excreting in India's Real Estate Economies

By Namita Vijay Dharia

Cite As:
Dharia, Namita Vijay. 2021. “Embodied Urbanisms: Corruption and the Ecologies of Eating and Excreting in India’s Real Estate Economies.” Cultural Anthropology 36, no. 4: 708–732.


This article studies metabolic systems of food, body, and waste within the urban development politics of the city of Gurgaon (now Gurugram) in India’s National Capital Region. I link rapid urban transformation within the region, the labor required to produce it, and the speculative real estate economy that governs it to the phenomenology of body politics in the region. In particular, I examine corruption as both a political-economic and a physical, caste-based narrative to argue that corruption connects embodiment and urban development ecologies to each other. This allows corruption discourses in Gurgaon to form a critique of real estate economies; changing urban environments are felt and critiqued through body politics and experienced at once as a peril and a pleasure. This work is based on fifteen months of ethnographic research in the construction industry in NCR involving members across the production chain of real estate, including landowners, investment bankers, developers, engineers, architects, foremen, and laborers.


construction; labor; corruption; urban metabolism; body