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[Archive] Informality in Focus

Informality in focus: Spatial Ethnography Lab in Mumbai

Mumbai is our case study for investigating informal urbanistic interventions, DIY urban design, and creative place-making strategies. Spatial ethnography is a tool in development for studying the impact of these conditions and the possibilities they represent. In our Mumbai projects we connect ethnographic research and thick description of conditions, using interviews and participant-observation at the local, micro-scale to initiate research at increasingly larger scales utilizing data visualization, mapping, and landscape ecology analysis. This hybrid methodology, combining different scales and modes of analysis, allows us to effectively investigate how these informal strategies might improve current urban policies designed to formalize these conditions. Our goal is to look beyond such institutionalizations and to promote democratic change in the political economy of Mumbai’s built environment.