In this paper, I focus on one particular instance of state intervention: the practice of issuing licenses to tour guides, and the interactions that this engenders between state personnel and local tour guides. Here, I ask: how do entrepreneurs respond to state policies that seek to regulate and monitor their work?
Interactions between the state and its subjects have been characterized as centered on the idea of "waiting" for the state as well as the incomprehensibility or illegibility of the state, especially as ensconced in bureaucratic processes (Auyero 2012; Das and Poole ed. 2004; Hull 2012). Similarly, bureaucratic paperwork is infamous for being irrational, slow and cumbersome, famously portrayed as the "iron cage of bureaucracy" (Weber 1930). Scholars have argued that the state displays its sovereign power over its subjects through these characteristic features.
I present an ethnography of the state to argue that people subject to the state's regulatory authority are able to challenge the state's regulatory authority by strategically employing these very features of delay and waiting. Furthermore, I argue that bureaucratic paperwork is not simply deemed as an incomprehensible or illegible red tape, but rather, people see it as a useful tool to document and highlight the actions of personnel who harass them.
This paper is based on ethnographic research conducted in October 2012-August 2013 for my doctoral research in the tourism market around the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. I focus on tour guides, local tourism officials and security personnel.
Key Words: tour guides, waiting, bureaucracy