Staff – University of Copenhagen

Maansi Parpiani

Maansi Parpiani

PhD fellow

Member of:

    A PhD Fellow at ToRS, my research interests lie at the intersections of labour informality, urban transformations and caste identities in contemporary India. 

    My doctoral project looks at the figure of the informal labour as a site of contestation on which the concepts of work and city are constantly being redefined. This occurs most starkly in context of the state vision of making new satellite towns outside the big metropolises. Over the last three decades (India's post-reform era), these new schema for town planning have facilitated movement of labour to the peripheries of Mumbai while providing neither any structural mechanisms for their assimilation with the local population and economy, nor any protection of their work. Further, the changing dynamic of a village becoming a city reflects in not only villagers becoming urban, but also in the schism between ‘village insiders’ and ‘migrants from outside’.

    The project aims are three-fold. One, it looks at the making of two townships outside Mumbai, through their documented histories of land acquisition and industrial planning, as well as through local oral histories and experiences of urbanisation, both of which who see themselves as locals and as migrant workers.

    Secondly, parallel to the movement of labour to fringe cities, is an intensification of labour activism in these new towns. Discourses of labour welfarism are variously articulated by a range of stakeholders - from religious organisations, new trade unions, NGOs to political parties. These multiple voices form a universe that intersects with existing contentious discourses of slum rehabilitation, caste empowerment, minority rights and migration’s local-outsider debate.

    Lastly, several of these organisations functioning in the nebulous ‘development sector’, are themselves struggling to remain relevant and are often in competition with one another. Their own ‘developmental work’ as labour without much social protections helps lay out the ways in which informality is both constructed, intervened in and negotiated by those trying to ameliorate the lives of informal workers.


    At ToRS, I co-teach a spring semester BA course on 'Globalisation and Development in South Asia', that historically traces the subcontinent's experiences with questions of land, labour, gender, migration and poverty. 

    I have a Masters in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. My masters thesis focused on the discourses of urban planning and ‘failed’ schemes of development in early 20th century Bombay.

    More information on my publications, conferences and activities can be found in the relevant tabs. 

    ID: 125315216