Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Building on anthropological research on the role of documents within bureaucracies, this paper examines the production of bureaucratic documents for India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act by brokers and activists outside of government offices. While a “state idea” of how the welfare bureaucracy operates is produced through elaborate documentary systems, tracing the process of production of key documents enables an “unmasking” of this representation and reveals the non-official actors who produce most key documents. Brokers and activists stand at the intersection of governmentality and politics, and bend the former to the will of the later. Since politics involves contestation, I show the ways in which the production of documents is a site of struggle -precisely the reality that the fetish of documentation conceals.