The essays collected here are based on two decades of engagement with the residents of the slums of Govindpuri in India’s capital, Delhi. The book presents stories of many kinds, from speculative treatises, via the recollection of a thousand everyday conversations, to an account of the making of a radio documentary.

Zig-zagging through the lanes of Govindpuri, Listening into Others explores the vibrant sounds emanating from slum culture. Redefining ethnography as listening in passing, Chandola excels at narrating the stories of the everyday. The ubiquity of smartphones, sonic selfies, wailing, the ethics of wearing jeans, the crossroad rituals of elections, the political agency of slum-dwellers, the war of the sexes through bodily gestures, and conflicts over ownership of both property and sound generated in the slums — these are among the many encounters Chandola opens up to the reader.


Slums are anxious spaces in the materiality, experience, and imagination of a city. They are the by-products of the violent and exploitative mechanisms of urbanization. What becomes of the slum-dwellers, who universally, across centuries, cities and continents, befall similar fates of being discriminated, reckoned to be the scum of the earth, and a burden on society? By listening to identified others and amplifying their voices in their own vocabularies and grammar, Tripta Chandola’s praxis creates a methodological, political, and poetic rupture. Slums, she finds, are not anathema to the city’s past, present, or future. They are an integral component of urbanization and a foundational part of the city.


With Listening into Others, Tripta Chandola poses the question: ‘Who owns the slum, and who determines which voices are heard? From where you are, listen with me.’

Product Details

  • Publish Date: 2020
  • Publisher: Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-94-92302-63-2
  • Available here

About the Author

Tripta Chandola is an ethnographer based in Delhi, India. She completed her doctorate from Queensland University of Technology, Australia, in 2010. She has held research positions at NUS, Singapore and RMIT, Melbourne. She has also worked as a research consultant for several international and national projects. One of her long-term, sustained research engagement has been with the space and its residents of the slums of Govindpuri in Delhi. Her particular focus is on the everyday encounters, social, cultural, political, emotional and sensual, which inform the identity, rights and claims which the residents of the slums can assert in the broader materiality and imagination of the city.


The politics of everyday encounters of marginalisation, disenfranchisement and rights the poor are the key focus of her research. She has published in international peer-review journals and contributed to edited book collections. In 2015, BBC World Service commissioned radio programme based on her doctoral research titled Listening into Others.

Tripta Chandola is a Research Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, DERC, RMIT, Australia.

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