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Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India (John Hope Franklin Center Book)by Akhil Gupta
Synopses & Reviews
Red Tape presents a major new theory of the state developed by the renowned anthropologist Akhil Gupta. Seeking to understand the chronic and widespread poverty in India, the world's fourth largest economy, Gupta conceives of the relation between the state in India and the poor as one of structural violence. Every year this violence kills between two and three million people, especially women and girls, and lower-caste and indigenous peoples. Yet India's poor are not disenfranchised; they actively participate in the democratic project. Nor is the state indifferent to the plight of the poor; it sponsors many poverty amelioration programs.
Gupta conducted ethnographic research among officials charged with coordinating development programs in rural Uttar Pradesh. Drawing on that research, he offers insightful analyses of corruption; the significance of writing and written records; and governmentality, or the expansion of bureaucracies. Those analyses underlie his argument that care is arbitrary in its consequences, and that arbitrariness is systematically produced by the very mechanisms that are meant to ameliorate social suffering. What must be explained is not only why government programs aimed at providing nutrition, employment, housing, healthcare, and education to poor people do not succeed in their objectives, but also why, when they do succeed, they do so unevenly and erratically.
Examining the chronic, widespread poverty in India, the world's fourth largest economy, Akhil Gupta theorizes the relation between the state in India and the poor as one of structural violence.
The significant anarchist, Black, and socialist world-movements that emerged in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth adapted discourses of sentiment and sensation and used the era's new forms of visual culture to move people to participate in projects of social, political, and economic transformation. Drawing attention to the vast archive of images and texts created by radicals prior to the 1930s, Shelley Streeby analyzes representations of violence and abuses of state power in relation to the Haymarket police riot, the trial and execution of the Chicago anarchists, and the mistreatment and imprisonment of Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magón and other members of the Partido Liberal Mexicano. She considers radicals' reactions to and depictions of U.S. imperialism, state violence against the Yaqui Indians in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, the failure of the United States to enact laws against lynching, and the harsh repression of radicals that accelerated after the U.S. entered the First World War. By focusing on the adaptation and critique of sentiment, sensation, and visual culture radical by world-movements in the period between the Haymarket Riots and the deportation of Marcus Garvey from the United States, Streeby sheds new light on the ways that these movements reached across national boundaries, criticized state power, and envisioned alternative worlds.
About the Author
Akhil Gupta is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for India and South Asia at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Postcolonial Developments: Agriculture in the Making of Modern India and a coeditor of Culture, Power, Place: Explorations in Critical Anthropology, both also published by Duke University Press. He is also a coeditor of The State in India after Liberalization: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science, The Anthropology of the State: A Reader, and Caste and Outcast.
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