Paroj likes to think about cities and the systematic disorder of the urban fascinates her. She holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology (honours) from St Xavier’s College, Kolkata and a Master’s degree in Habitat Policy and Practice (gold medallist) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai. For over 5 years, Paroj has worked with various organizations around the themes of environmental sustainability, human rights and welfare entitlements.
Before beginning her Phd at LSE she had worked on a wide range of urban issues that centred on invisibility of marginal groups in cities, affordable housing, planning and policy, urban campaigns focussing on gender and space and migration. It is her sustained interest in invisibility in the lives of many urban dwellers that has got her interested in pursuing postgraduate research on spatial practices of street dwellers in India. She is interested in conducting an ethnographic enquiry into the everyday micro interactions and negotiations of the street dwellers.
She is currently on a 1 year ethnographic field work in Mumbai, India. Her study aims to understand how street populations experience and practice “home” in spaces that are not just extremely precarious, but also prohibitive. Advancing beyond the narratives of marginality, she wants to understand the everyday experiences of street living, the spatial contestations, negotiations that underscore their existence in specific locations, interface with streets and public spaces, domestication of spaces, interactions with institutions like the police, municipal authorities, railway authorities, local traders and explore the processes by which they claim a sense of ‘home’ in these spaces. Their practices suggest that home is just not an emotional notion but a deeply functional construct (considering work and domestic life takes place in the same space), which is reflected in temporal transformation and usage of space. These practices are governed by social and cultural norms where violence features in a significant way, pushing some social groups like women and children to further marginalisation. While many authors have pointed out the negative experiences of home, in her study she intends to highlight how these “extreme geographies” are endured to survive vulnerabilities that street living entails.
Gareth A. Jones