ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Anthropology of Police Authority

Provisional Authority: Police, Order, and Security in India by Beatrice Jauregui, Chicago, London: Chicago University Press, 2016; pp ix+ 205, $35 /£24.50.

This slim work of 160 pages (with 45 pages of “notes”) is daunting to read, although it starts blithely. The author, an American anthropologist, travels into the rural areas of northern Lucknow with her research assistant on a summer evening in June 2007. She is doing a 24-month field study of the Indian police as part of her research project commissioned by a group of American academic institutions. Accompanying her are two Uttar Pradesh (UP) policemen, both Brahmins, who are going into their halka (beat) on motorcycles.

The author chose to do fieldwork in UP since 2006 as it represented a “microcosm of how everyday local policing intersects with the fragmentation and fractiousness of sociocultural order and democratic politics” (p 17) of India. Also, UP police is the “Largest sub-national police force under a unified command in the entire world” (p 24). The narrative gets deeply philosophical as she tries to compare the state’s “chalta hai policing” (which she translates as: “so it goes; what can you do?”) (p 8) with the theoretical templates of Max Weber on legitimate force, Egon Bittner on coercion, David Bayley on police accountability, etc.

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Updated On : 27th Mar, 2018
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