Claiming Public Space: Loitering in the City
by Prof. Dr. Nadja-Christina Schneider

“Claims to loitering are fundamentally imagined as collective rather than individual. This sense of the collective is often missed by arguments that understand such protests as individualistic and neo-liberal (Shilpa Phadke, “Defending Frivolous Fun: Feminist Acts of Claiming Public Spaces in South Asia”, 2020:289). 

 Shilpa Phadke is a Professor at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She is co-author of the critically acclaimed book Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets (2011) (together with Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade) and co-director of the documentary film Under the Open Sky (2016). 

Today, shrinking city-space, an increasing privatization and surveillance of public space as well as the ongoing socio-spatial segregation make it even more difficult to imagine an inclusive space where different marginalized groups and communities can come together to disrupt the taken-for-granted segregation of people, hierarchies, boundaries and build new alliances. Ten years after the publication of “Why loiter?” and subsequent emergence of a loitering movement in South Asian cities, Shilpa Phadke reflects in her conversation with Nadja-Christina Schneider on the continued relevance of key claims of the path-breaking book.