Member Profile

Nirupama Jayaraman

Graduate Student/Teaching Assistant, University of Illinois at Chicago

Contributing Editor, Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

Research Interests

About Nirupama

As a social cultural anthropologist, my research interests lie at the intersection of political, urban and economic anthropology. Broadly, I am interested in understanding urban transportation networks in South Asia. I hope to examine the infrastructures and mobilities that produce and are produced by such networks, specifically at the intersections of gender and class. I aim to understand if and how class mobility and the consumption of automobility are related. I am also interested in unpacking the complexities of extant and emerging “gig” economies facilitated by digital infrastructures, across the Asiatic region, through questions of labor, evolving digital spatialities, reimagined human relations and legitimacies, etc.

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Contributions to Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

View all of Nirupama's posts on Platypus: The CASTAC Blog.

Indian Food Delivery Networks During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the past decade, the concept of the gig economy has gained momentum in academic discourse. Often linked to temporary employment created by multinational technological corporations through digital platforms, the gig economy has transformed conventional discourses of labor and economy. It brought to the fore the increased precarity in employment, transformed modes of mobilization, fueled workers' unionizing efforts, and produced new vocabularies (Vallas and Schor 2020; Khreiche 2018). In India’s dynamic economic landscape, these changes are particularly visible. One can argue that the use of digital technologies has reached a new peak in the ongoing global pandemic--as we have observed the changes in techno-bio-political regimes associated with COVID-19-tracking and increased reliance on mobile applications (Battin 2020; Segata 2020). In this light, focusing on India in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes especially useful considering the narratives of hegemony and precarity often associated with gig labor within this geographical context, now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic (Adams and Dickey 2000; Cruz-Del Rosario and Rigg 2019, 517-527). More specifically, in this post, I pay attention to India's food delivery infrastructure (with the scene being dominated by two domestic companies, Swiggy and Zomato) and engagements with it on social media, as I reflect on them against the backdrop of the global pandemic in a densely populated and economically fraught country such as India. Redefining essential infrastructures digitally in a global pandemic Joseph Masco defines crisis as a permanent narrative reinforced by news and mass media and argues that it is hard to (more...)