The anthropology of South Asian politics today
Morgenstierne Seminar Double Lecture
Lisa Björkman, University of Louisville
Nicholas Martin, Universität Zürich
Lisa Björkman is Assistant Professor, Department of Urban & Public Affairs, University of Louisville. She has written on the encounter in the Indian city of Mumbai between liberalising market reforms and the materially-dense politics of the city’s water infrastructures, exploring the everyday political, social, and material dynamics that produce and inhabit flows of water through the growing and globalising city. On this she published Pipe Politics: Mumbai’s Contested Waters (Duke University Press 2015). Later she probed popular and scholarly debates about urban politics, bureaucratic corruption and political clientelism, and shows how election-season exchange animates intricate, contingent, highly-speculative relational and informational networks by means of which democratic representation is actually produced and instantiated – and political contestations and substantive citizenship claims articulated. This research has resulted in several papers and articles, including 'You can't buy a vote' (American Ethnologist).
Nicholas Martin is Assistenzprofessor für Moderne Indologie in Südasienwissenschaft at Universität Zürich. His fieldwork has mostly been on Punjab, both in Pakistan and in India. His main field has been agrarian change, the evolving nature of patron-client ties, and on debt bondage, and a book entitled Politics, Landlords and Islam in Pakistan that was published by Routledge in 2015. The book explores the above themes in greater detail, but also examines electoral politics, factionalism, violence and electoral fraud, as well as the relationship between Sufi Islam and landed power. He is currently writing articles and planning his second book based on his recent fieldwork in India. Topics include: ‘bossism’, violence and extortion, electoral malpractice, factionalism, and the changing relationship between caste and class.