Policing as a global form is often fraught with excessive violence, corruption, and even criminalization. These sorts of problems are especially omnipresent in postcolonial nations such as India, where Beatrice Jauregui has spent several years studying the day-to-day lives of police officers in its most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. In this book, she offers an empirically rich and theoretically innovative look at the great puzzle of police authority in contemporary India and its relationship to social order, democratic politics, and security. Jauregui explores the paradoxical demands placed on Indian police, who are at once routinely charged with abuses of authority at the same time that they are asked to extend that authority into any number of both official and unofficial tasks. Her ethnography of their everyday life and work demonstrates that police authority is provisional in several senses: shifting across time and space, subject to the availability and movement of resources, and dependent upon shared moral codes and relentless instrumental demands.
In the end, she shows that police authority in India is not a vulgar manifestation of raw power or the violence of law but, rather, a contingent social resource relied upon in different ways to help realize human needs and desires in a pluralistic, postcolonial democracy.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 408 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
"In splendidly clear and incisive prose, Jauregui takes us to the 'cutting edge' of everyday policing in North India. This is a surprising and sometimes violent world where, as she lucidly explains, authority is always in the end in some sense 'provisional.' Jauregui's fieldwork is genuinely pathbreaking, while her theoretical analysis unerringly swerves away from the received clich s that too often dominate writing on the postcolonial state. Like all great books, Provisional Authority has created its own genre--a genre in which Hindi noir meets the banalities of everyday life in the police barracks and tea shops of Uttar Pradesh. The result is a terrific book that is at once highly readable and intellectually challenging."--Jonathan Spencer, University of Edinburgh
"Provisional Authority is marvelous. It is clearly the best ethnographic book on the Indian police ever written. Jauregui writes incisively about both theory and practice, interweaving frontline stories with larger theoretical points and analysis. She shows the living reality of Indian police at the 'coal face', brilliantly laying out the nuanced problems of access and observer involvement in India."--David H. Bayley, author of Governing the Police: Experience in Six Democracies