Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India (a John Hope Franklin Center Book)

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9780822351108: Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India (a John Hope Franklin Center Book)

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.

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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.

Review:

"This is a landmark study of bureaucratic practices through which the state is actualized in the lives of the poor in India. Akhil Gupta's theoretical sophistication and the ethnographic depth in this book demonstrate how South Asian studies continues to challenge and shape the direction of social theory. This book is a stunning achievement."—Veena Das, author of Life and Words

"This long-awaited book is a masterful achievement that offers a close look at the culture of bureaucracy in India and, through this lens, casts new light on structural violence, liberalization, and the paradox of misery in the midst of explosive economic growth. Akhil Gupta's sensitive analysis of the everyday practices of writing, recording, filing, and reporting at every level of the state in India joins a rich literature on the politics of inscription and marks a brilliant new benchmark for political anthropology in India and beyond."—Arjun Appadurai, author of Fear of Small Numbers

"Why has the postcolonial state in India seemed so incapable of improving the life chances of the country's poor? In his brilliant book Red Tape, Akhil Gupta argues that the structural violence inherent in the state operates as a form of biopower in which normal bureaucratic procedures depoliticize the killing of the poor. Whether exploring corruption, literacy, or population policy, Gupta provides an utterly original account of the deadly operations of state power associated with the ascendancy of new industrial classes and of neoliberal practice in contemporary India. A tour de force."—Michael Watts, author of Silent Violence

“[A] novel exploration of the various bureaucratic structures and institutions that make the poor both voiceless and invisible to decision makers and administrators, from Delhi down to the village. . . . Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate students through professionals.” (M. J. Frost Choice)

“Akhil Gupta’s Red Tape is one of the most insightful, probing and erudite studies that I have read on the Indian bureaucracy and its failures to significantly alter the destinies of millions of India’s poor. . . . Gupta’s findings are complex, multilayered, illuminating and thoughtful; the reader may not agree with all his conclusions, as I did not, but his work is refreshing for not being reductionist and simplistic, and for challenging many accepted assumptions” (Harsh Mander Economic and Political Weekly)

“Gupta asks why India, with a rapidly growing economy and a government plus NGOs that actively conduct poverty alleviation programs, continues to have vast, extremely poor, and socially marginalized populations. He frames this as a question in the production of structural violence, supported by a impressively clear and thoughtful review of the strengths and weaknesses of that term. . . . Rarely is a perspective of systems inequality, and one of complexity and diversity, so effectively synthesized.” (Josiah Heyman Anthropological Quarterly)

“This is a lucid, powerfully original and rigorously argued book...The strength of Akhil Gupta’s writing springs from his consistent rejection of the axiomatic as well as the incidental.” (Tarangini Sriraman Studies in Indian Politics)

Red Tape is an engaging volume. Gupta raises critical questions about the connections between ‘the state’ and poverty, and is able to provide some answers through ethnographic data. . . . [T]he volume can be strongly recommended to scholars studying the ‘state in India’, and poverty and development more generally.” (Terah Sportel Progress in Development Studies)

“The greatest strength of this book is that its complex theoretical argument connects an easy-to-read narrative that transports the reader to the rural settings in Uttar Pradesh. Hence, its rich content will appeal to a wider audience mainly because it adds to the literature on the culture and politics of the state. Although it specifically relates to fieldwork in rural India, by using Foucault and Agamben, social theorists who have wider appeal, this book will extend its global readership.” (Rohit Madan Gender, Place, and Culture)

“Akhil Gupta’s masterfully crafted book seeks to contribute to our understanding of the persistence of poverty in India despite high rates of growth and numerous public programmes designed to eradicate this malaise. . . . it makes an important contribution to the study of the quotidian practices that constitute the state, the conceptualization of poverty as structural violence, and the manner in which corruption, state inscriptions, and neoliberal governmentality combine to produce the systematic arbitrariness that perpetuates poverty in the country.”  (Indrajit Roy Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)

Red Tape is written with matchless clarity and deliberation, and brims with ethnographic insight.  More importantly, it is a profoundly moral book that joins outrage with cold-eyed analysis of abject poverty that kills. . . . Akhil Gupta has produced a tour-de-force: an argument that is ambitious, erudite, bold, and, best of all, generative to think with.” (Vinay Gidwani Society and Space: Environment and Planning D)

Red Tape is a brave attempt to answer a harrowing question: ‘Why has a state whose proclaimed motive is to foster development failed to help the large number of people who still live in dire poverty?’ (p. 3). . .  Gupta’s account of the relationship between written documents and oral accounts, and also statistics and narrative, makes a significant contribution to existing anthropological analysis of the construction of knowledge in bureaucratic settings.” (Gemma John PoLAR)

“[A] superb interrogation of bureaucracy and poverty in contemporary India. . . .” (Benjamin Siegel Contemporary South Asia)

“[M]agesterial. . . . Red Tape beautifully and gut-wrenchingly reveals how and why the government regularly fails to deliver on its promise.” (Sharmila Rudrappa Contemporary Sociology)

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Descripción Duke University Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Nº de ref. de la librería AAJ9780822351108

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Descripción Duke University Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Nº de ref. de la librería AAJ9780822351108

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