Infrastructure of Resistance: Rights Contestation among Construction Workers in Beijing and Delhi


Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowships in China Studies – Long-Term


School for International Studies


This book is a comparative ethnography of construction workers in Beijing and Delhi. It documents the market, state, and social mechanisms which produce and reproduce the precarious conditions under which workers work and live. It also seeks to explain this puzzle: why are Beijing workers, compared to Delhi workers, more able to mobilize within the spaces of civil society to fight for their rights, despite authoritarianism in China, and democracy in India? Challenging established understandings of civil society organizing in authoritarian and democratic contexts, this book argues that the answer lies in the infrastructural power of the state: the same infrastructures that enable state control over society also empowers society to access and make demands on the state.