Nonhuman Lifeworlds in Urban India

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


The Philosopher, Volume 108, Issue 1 (2020)


Urbanisation is at the forefront of the challenges that India and several other nations of the Global South confront in the 21st century. Urban poverty is on the rise and rapid urbanisation is seriously outstripping most cities’ capacities to provide adequate dwelling, staples and infrastructure for their growing populations. A rather neglected, albeit pivotal, dimension of Indian urban life pertains to its nonhuman denizens. These range from the cultivated species – with their upkeep constituting an important means through which the poor deal with urban precarity – to the commensal – living and ranging freely but intimately associated with human-provisioned food sources. The ubiquitous urban macaques, which live integrally in virtually every city and town of the Indian subcontinent, cohabiting comfortably with people but also unsettling the rhythms of the everyday and posing serious public health and governance concerns, constitute an example of a commensal species par excellence