This research has been based on ethnographic work in the city of Ahmedabad, India, which is a large industrial city in the state of Gujarat, where I’ve worked with several adivasi (indigenous) communities, who are among the itinerant ethnic groups transformed into criminal populations under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871.
This work assesses the enduring and sometimes contradictory effects of a highly repressive policy and policing apparatus that knit together caste and biopolitics at the genesis of government in colonial India. While this policy genealogy is an important component of my work, the research is firmly grounded in examining how colonial afterlives continue to structure adivasis’ access to territory, rights and justice in the contemporary metropolis.
This is part of a broader examination of how the informalization of territories and rights is being mobilized through a spectrum of state practices, and represents a political regime of governing in contemporary Ahmedabad. I’m particularly concerned with the ways in which the informal production of urban space is eroding the poor’s legal and extra-legal access to land, housing, civic services, and democratic protections.