South Asian Political Thought (SAPT) Discussion Group: MT18 Week 6: Friends, Enemies and 'Dirty Politics': Studying Petty Politicking on the Workfloor

Conveners: Udit Bhatia & Amogh Dhar Sharma

Speaker: Garima Jaju (DPhil candidate, University of Oxford)

Chair: Dr Sneha Krishnan, University of Oxford

In this paper, I focus on peer relations and everyday peer sociality in different outlets of a fast expanding organized retail, eyewear company in the city of New Delhi, India. My focus is not just on positive sociality, as manifested in friendships. I also note as important more negative forms of sociality – ignored in the scholarship – that manifest in more hostile social relations, which, in its most extreme and often rather dramatic form, are identified as enmities (dushmani). Focusing on the everyday social relations, socializing and commentary making that takes place among friends and ‘enemies’ in the various stores, I show how the store floor is seen as rife with tensions that my informants identify as ‘dirty politics’. I study this everyday, store-level petty politicking not just for how it frames my informants’ daily experience of being and working in the stores, but also for how it shapes or reflects their larger understanding of politics and their own political subjectivities. This in turn has implications for the broader landscape of political imagination, participation, organization, and action today.


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