Shadows of the State, Subalterns of the State: Police, Authority, and ‘Law and Order’ in Postcolonial India


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation explores how legitimacy and authority are constructed and contested through the everyday practices of police personnel in India. The analysis demonstrates that what appears to be merely corrupt, disorderly, and illegal governance is in fact intelligible as a complex of legitimated logics and patterns of practice in a democratic order. This complex is constituted by dialectics of authority and obedience that are realized in dialogue with, though not necessarily in accord with, “the law.” Moreover, the analysis shows that even while social inequalities remain, a critical mass of “the people” manage to express agency and political will by participating in this complex, rather than remaining subjected by structures of dominance and power.