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Protection rackets and party machines: comparative ethnographies of “mafia raj” in north india


Martin, Nicolas; Michelutti, Lucia (2017). Protection rackets and party machines: comparative ethnographies of “mafia raj” in north india. Asian Journal of Social Science, 45:692-722.

Abstract

Control over means of violence and protection emerge as crucial in much research on corruption in non-South Asian contexts. In the Indian context, however, we still know little about the systems of organised violence that sustain the entanglement of crime, capital and democratic politics. This timely comparative ethnographic piece explores two different manifestations of what our informants identify as “Mafia Raj” (“rule by mafia”) across North India (Uttar Pradesh and Punjab). Drawing on analytical concepts developed in the literature on bossism and “mafias”, we explore protection and racketeering as central statecraft repertoires of muscular styles of governance in the region. We show how a predatory economy together with structures of interand intra-party political competition generate the demand for and the imposition of unofficial and illegal protection and shape different manifestations of Mafia Raj. In doing so, the paper aims to contribute to debates on the relationship between states and illegalities in and beyond South Asia.

Abstract

Control over means of violence and protection emerge as crucial in much research on corruption in non-South Asian contexts. In the Indian context, however, we still know little about the systems of organised violence that sustain the entanglement of crime, capital and democratic politics. This timely comparative ethnographic piece explores two different manifestations of what our informants identify as “Mafia Raj” (“rule by mafia”) across North India (Uttar Pradesh and Punjab). Drawing on analytical concepts developed in the literature on bossism and “mafias”, we explore protection and racketeering as central statecraft repertoires of muscular styles of governance in the region. We show how a predatory economy together with structures of interand intra-party political competition generate the demand for and the imposition of unofficial and illegal protection and shape different manifestations of Mafia Raj. In doing so, the paper aims to contribute to debates on the relationship between states and illegalities in and beyond South Asia.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
290 Other religions
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:18 Dec 2017 16:07
Last Modified:27 Mar 2018 20:56
Publisher:Brill
ISSN:1568-4849
OA Status:Closed

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