Offering ethnographic depth that will be invaluable to students and scholars of politics and anthropology in South Asia, Mafia Raj examines the everyday workings of bosses across seven towns in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The authors craft a cogent, but uniquely multifaceted, view of the personal struggles for sovereignty of seven distinct types of strongmen as they ascend the ladder of power.
Mafia has become an indigenous South Asian term. Like Italian mobsters, the South Asian gangster politicians are known for inflicting brutal violence while simultaneously upholding vigilante justice-inspiring fear and fantasy. But the term also refers to the diffuse spheres of crime, business, and politics operating within a shadow world that is popularly referred to as the rule of the mafia, or Mafia Raj. Through intimate stories of the lives of powerful and aspiring bosses in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, this book illustrates their personal struggles for sovereignty as they climb the ladder of success. Ethnographically tracing the particularities of the South Asian case, the authors theorize what they call the art of bossing, providing nuanced ideas about crime, corruption, and the lure of the strongman across the world.
Lucia Michelutti is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University College London. Ashraf Hoque is Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University College London. Nicolas Martin is Assistant Professor at the University of Zurich. David Picherit is Research Scholar at the French National Centre for Scientific Research. Paul Rollier is Assistant Professor in South Asian Studies at the University of St. Gallen. Arild E. Ruud is Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Oslo. Clarinda Still is Postdoctoral Fellow at SIAS University of Oxford.