Mumbai, originally a set of seven islands inhabited by fishing communities, has a long history of migration, dating back to the 14th century, when Arab traders arrived at its shores. As it developed into a colonial port and trading city under the British and later into a centre for manufacture, Mumbai has always been a city of migrants, built on their labour, their enterprise, their sweat and blood. Some migrants are deemed citizens, assimilated into the city, granted access to shelter and amenities. Others remain migrants forever, denied their rights to the city, generation after generation. Despite their precarity in the scheme of the city, their contribution is immense. They form the backbone of the informal sector: construction workers, hawkers, domestic workers, waste recyclers, taxi drivers, contract workers in small-scale industries and many many others. Their contribution to the city is mostly unrecognised and they are often seen as a drain on the city. This website explores the lifeworlds of these “other” migrants.
The different sections of the archive are: