Ethnography of Community Governance: A Case of COVID-19 Response of an Urban Slum in Bangladesh
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Although COVID-19 cases and deaths in different clusters of Bangladesh were increasing rapidly for most of the year 2020, surprisingly very few cases were reported in the urban slums, identified as the potential hotspots of Coronavirus. While the epidemiological puzzle of the low incidence of COVID-19 in slums remains unresolved, an ethnography in an urban slum in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, reveals how, in the context of indifference from the state, the slum dwellers themselves initiated several informal but robust interventions to tackle the pandemic. This study reveals the power of community governance from below, which we understand using Bayat’s (2013) concept of ‘quiet encroachment’ and Roy’s (2009) argument about the role of informality in urban governance. To adapt to the pandemic situation, we applied an innovative ‘peer research’ approach for data collection.