In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mumbai

  • Introduction
  • Biography of Bombay
  • The Making of Bombay City

Urban Studies Mumbai
Anitra Baliga
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 November 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 November 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190922481-0050


Mumbai over the past decade and a half has seen a shift within urban studies. It has moved from a relatively marginal position to becoming increasingly central in theory, practice, and imagination. This rise can be attributed to Mumbai’s size and demographic growth, its increasing connections to global circuits of capital and cultural exchange, as well as new theoretical and policy interest in the “slum” and cities of the “Global South.” Mumbai has been a part of the incipient “Southern turn” in urban studies in which mega-cities of the Global South have come to be recognized as incubators of future urbanism and as places at the leading edge of processes of globalizing modernity. Important in-depth scholarship on Mumbai has circulated widely in international urban research, triggered especially by the coverage provided by the three-volume Oxford University Press series published between 1995 and 2003. These works, among others, have allowed greater sensitivity to Mumbai’s range of distinctive urban spaces, cultural idioms, and lived experiences as well as their often chaotic and unknowable characteristics. Recent changes in the socio-spatial landscape of Mumbai have further opened up important new and alternative ways both of understanding, theorizing, and planning contemporary cities and of investigating urban life in the context of globalization.

Biography of Bombay

A metropolis reclaimed from the ocean, Bombay—renamed Mumbai after the goddess Mumbadevi—defies definition. Instead, the portrait of Bombay has been chronicled in Tindall 1992 through the everyday life of the city and its inhabitants—from the criminal underworld to the diverse people who come from the villages in search of a better life. Two biographies of Bombay, Mehta 2005 and Prakash 2010, provide a deep understanding and appreciation of one of the world’s most iconic cities.

  • Mehta, Suketu. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

    In Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, Suketu Mehta relates the story of modern Bombay, India, to his lived experiences through an anthology as rich and varied as the city it celebrates.

  • Prakash, Gyan. Mumbai Fables: A History of an Enchanted City. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400835942

    Shedding light on the city’s past and present, Mumbai Fables offers an unparalleled look at this extraordinary metropolis. Gyan Prakash unearths the stories behind its fabulous history, viewing Mumbai through its turning points and kaleidoscopic ideas, comic book heroes, and famous scandals—the history behind Mumbai’s stories of opportunity and oppression, of fabulous wealth and grinding poverty, of cosmopolitan desires and nativist energies.

  • Tindall, Gillian. City of Gold: The Biography of Bombay. New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1992.

    City of Gold centers on the history and evolving economic scenario of Bombay since the 16th century. In this book, the author explores the British roots of the metropolis and how Bombay has grown to become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

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