Ordinary states: Everyday corruption and the politics of space in Mumbai

by Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria


In this article, I draw from fieldwork on the micropractices of hawkers’ illicit dealings with low-level state functionaries in Mumbai, India, to explore how claims to city space are negotiated. I argue that what is often understood as a breakdown in urban governance is, instead, what I call an “ordinary space of negotiation” that constitutes the grounds on which claims to substantive citizenship are made. This ethnographic exploration of what practices of corruption produce has the possibility to expand how scholars think about the state and political claim making in liberal democratic contexts at large.