Discoursing on slums; representing the cosmopolitan subaltern

Janet M Wilson, Pavan Kumar Malreddy (Editor), Birte Heidemann (Editor), Ole Birk Laursen (Editor), Janet Mary Wilson (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter


Representing the Cosmopolitan Subaltern” identifies the precarious condition of slum dwellers in the interstices of neoliberal market forces, state indifference and subaltern cosmopolitanism(s) within which their subject identities are formed, negotiated and represented. Wilson argues that reconstructions of urban subalternity found in fiction and film are indebted to the methods and discourses of oral history, case study and interview used in anthropological and sociological research on slums. Focusing on the fictionalised accounts of Mumbai’s slum dwellers in Danny Boyle’s film Slumdog Millionaire (2010) and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012), she identifies the ambiguous positioning of such “slum narratives” in accommodating space for individual agency that defers to the normative conception of rights in the West, while paying little attention to the collective claims for communal belonging, rights and ownership made by the political community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReworking Postcolonialism: Globalization, Labour and Rights
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages253
ISBN (Print)9781137435927
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2015



  • Discourse
  • slums
  • subaltern
  • cosmopolitanism
  • Katherine Boo
  • Slumdog Millionaire

Cite this

Wilson, J. M., Malreddy, P. K. (Ed.), Heidemann, B. (Ed.), Laursen, O. B. (Ed.), & Wilson, J. M. (Ed.) (2015). Discoursing on slums; representing the cosmopolitan subaltern. In Reworking Postcolonialism: Globalization, Labour and Rights (pp. 229-243). Palgrave Macmillan Ltd..