Tuesday, February 22, 2022 12:30 PM
Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs
South Asia Center presents:
Police Matters: A Book Talk with Radha Kumar and Lisa Mitchell
Police Matters: the Everyday State and Caste in South India (Cornell University Press, 2021) draws on previously
unexplored station records to examine the close ties between state and caste
authority that were displayed at everyday as well as exceptional moments
through much of the twentieth century in the Tamil-speaking countryside of
southern India. Scholarship on British India has typically depicted the police
as a coercive instrument of alien authority, absent in the countryside except
on occasion to brutally subdue protest. In contrast, Police Matters utilizes
previously unexplored archives to show that the colonial police exercised a
more continuous presence in rural life in the southern province of Madras.
Here, state coercion was not only exceptional and spectacular; it was also
subtle and continuous, woven into the warp and weft of everyday life.
Outnumbered in the vast countryside, colonial policemen optimized their
resources by drawing on knowledge that classified Indian subjects based on
their caste. The police thus brought epistemic and legal violence into the
colonial countryside, transforming its way of life. Far from being the dregs of
a premodern past, modern caste politics have been shaped in conjunction with
Radha Kumar is a historian of colonial and postcolonial South Asia, focusing on the Tamil-speaking regions of southern India. Her areas of interest include caste, law, environment, and popular politics. She has commenced work on a second book project, Whose River? The Kaveri and Political Belonging in Modern India, which asks how imperial subjects and postcolonial citizens participated in politics and asserted their right to water over the course of the long twentieth-century.
Lisa Mitchell is Associate Professor of anthropology & history in the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Hailing the State: Collective Assembly and the Politics of Representation in the History of Indian Democracy (forthcoming, Duke University Press), and Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India: The Making of a Mother Tongue (Indiana University Press, 2009 and Permanent Black, 2010), which was recipient of the American Institute of Indian Studies’ Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr. Prize in the Indian Humanities. She is currently working on a new book project on translations of globally circulating political ideas, provisionally entitled, The Multiple Genealogies of Indian Democracy: Global Intellectual History in Translation. She received her PhD in sociocultural anthropology from Columbia University.
For more information or to request additional accommodation arrangements, please contact Emera Bridger Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org.