Dr. Lisa Björkman (University of Louisville)

Curriculum Vitae

Lisa Björkman received her PhD in Politics from the New School for Social Research in 2012. So far she has taken on two big projects. The first is a political ethnography about the encounter in the Indian city of Mumbai between liberalizing market reforms and the materially-dense politics of the city’s water infrastructures, exploring the everyday political, social, and material dynamics that produce and inhabit flows of water through the growing and globalizing city. This project, which was the core of her doctoral dissertation (2011), has resulted in three journal articles as well as a book, Pipe Politics: Mumbai’s Contested Waters (Duke University Press), which was recipient of the American Institute of Indian Studies’ 2014 Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences.

Her second project, which was carried out as a postdoctoral fellow with the Max Planck Institute, extended her previous work on the everyday politics of infrastructural provisioning and access to more explicitly engage with the formal institutions of politics and policymaking. This research, which was carried out in Mumbai over eight months in 2012-2013 in conjunction with the city’s Municipal Corporation elections, involved ethnographic research in a popular (‘slum’) neighborhood, focusing on the role of election-season cash exchange in producing and reconfiguring socio-political networks of power and authority in the city. Probing popular and scholarly debates about urban politics, bureaucratic corruption and political clientelism, she shows how election-season exchange animates intricate, contingent, highly-speculative relational and informational networks by means of which democratic representation is actually produced and instantiated – and political contestations and substantive citizenship claims articulated. This research has resulted in several papers and articles.

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