Amit Kumar

Research themes
  • Mobility, migration and urbanization
Research countries
  • India
Working groups

"ZEF in the City" (ZEFa research group) Critical urban studies on everyday urbanity, citizenship and the governance of informality in the Global South

Professional experience

BA Honors History from University of Delhi (2011-14) MA Social Work in Livelihood and Social Entrepreneurship from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (2014-16)

Funding institutions

Right Livelihood College / German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Thesis title

The Slum Movement: Self-Organisation and Mobilisation of Activist-Citizens Living in Unrecognised Slums of Mumbai

Thesis abstract

The attempt to make Mumbai ‘world-class’ by demolishing informal settlements was countered by mass protests in 2004-05, which led to the reorganisation of the people facing eviction in the same place where their dwellings were abolished. I will present how different actors come together to demolish slums and legitimise these acts of demolition; and how people facing demolition then push an alternative narrative of their repression which contends with the legitimisations of the demolishers. Secondly, I will delve into the transformation of slum dwellers whose slums had been demolished in 2004-05 from encroachers into activist-citizens as they created and joined social movements to resist their eviction from what they said was their land. Lastly, I will ask how a social movement breaks up into its component parts, into different actors like activists, NGO professionals and experts, and how these parts pursue their private interests alongside the original slum dwellers and become a regular feature of the lives of slum dwellers who have been through the fire of activist-citizenship.

I used Deleuzean approaches to assemblage theory and the Actor Network Theory by Bruno Latour to investigate this process in which an extra-ordinary event (demolition of dwelling) is lived through by a variety of different actors. I analyse the event itself on the basis of a mapping technique – situational analysis – given by Adele Clarke. I describe the formation of this event and the various stages gone through by the actants who happen to get involved in this event. It is not just the event that goes through a history of its own but the actants involved in such an event also go through a veritable transformation in their nature and it has been my task to investigate and describe those transformations as well. For example, people who were slum dwellers face the loss of their houses, they figure out ways and strategies to minimize this loss, in this violence that is being done to them they have to encounter the world in a way that they have to change themselves into activist-citizens, but this change in not just an internal change in the slum dwellers, to affect this change they have to bring a whole host of external actors into play who make their position stronger, and after the event the slum dwellers are not the same as before, now they also have in their environment all the new actants they brought into their lives to face the event. I have described the formation of this new world-situation.


Keywords: Urbanisation, Informal Housing, Social Movement, , Assemblage, Actor Network Theory


Supervisors of
doctoral work

Prof. Dr. Eva Youkhana

Advisor at ZEF

Dr. Irit Eguavoen

There are no publications of this person.

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Amit Kumar

Junior Researcher

ZEF A: Department of Political and Cultural Change