In this final episode on Zombie Development along the Konkan coast of India, we encounter stories of inter-species solidarity from Mumbai’s pasts and presents, which offer an anti-dote to the forces of zombie development that are destroying lands and livelihoods across the region. While development and progress are often poised as an egalitarian path toward the future, the terms belie narrow global class interests at the expense of workers, indigenous communities, and more-than-human ecologies across the world.
In today’s episode, we begin with a history lesson in conversation with Prof. Jesse Palsetia who teaches at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada). We encounter stories of/from the Parsi community in India, and their role in the development of Mumbai as a node in the global flows of capital. We hear about the tensions between ecology and economy that arise from the Parsi religion’s particular relationship to nature, especially to dogs and vultures. And we go back in time to learn about the dog riots of 1832, which was an anti-colonial protest and an act of inter-species solidarity, led by the Parsi community.
In the second half of the episode, we hear from artists and activists, who are engaged in both resistance and in creative world-building projects that seek to repair Mumbai’s broken relationship to nature and non-humans. We hear from filmmaker Rucha Chitnis about her upcoming short film, Van Vs Vikas (Forest Vs Development), which captures the struggle to save the Aarey Forest; we talk to wildlife conservationist Nikit Surve about urban leopards; we speak with Aslam Sayyid of Go Hallu Hallu, who curates walking tours along the city’s creeks and rivers; and we close with a song from the Aarey Key Foundation, an NGO working to uplift youth and wildlife within Aarey.
Special thanks to Kiran and Nikhil of Aarey Key for their contributions, to Rucha Chitnis for voice-over and translations in this episode.