Description de l'atelier / Panel description
Lucia Michelutti  1@  , Ash Hoque  1@  , Nicolas Martin  2@  , David Picherit  3@  , Paul Rollier  4@  , Arild Ruud  5@  , Clarinda Still  6@  
1 : University College, London
2 : Zürich university
3 : Nanterre
CNRS : UMR7186
4 : St Gallen Universty
5 : Oslo University
6 : Oxford University

The panel discusses the co-authored book manuscript 'Mafia Raj': The rule of Bosses in South Asia'. Grounded in systematic corruption, economic accumulation and physical violence, the politics of 'criminal' bosses are popularly known in the South Asian region as 'mafia raj', 'goonda raj' or 'mastanocracy' 'the rule by mafia' or 'rule by criminals'. Through 'the figure of the boss', we map out ethnographically how bosses and aspiring bosses rule; their statecraft techniques and contingent legitimaties across India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. We highlight local spheres of criminality and their relations (or autonomy) with formal politics in seven settings. Our gallery of portrayals include ‘The Legend': a gangster ‘Robin Hood' character now turned into a hero in South India; ‘The Rookie': an emerging political mastan (boss) with a muscular and artist background in peri-urban Bangladesh; ‘Lady Dabang': a mistress-cum-estate developer turned into a small town political boss in provincial North India; ‘The Henchman': a low-caste party boss who through muscle and theatrics is challenging caste hierarchies while at the same time making a dignified life for himself and his family; ‘The Adjudicators': a constellation of small-time influential bosses who run private dera, and seek to administer justice in their respective neighborhoods and markets in a Pakistani city; ‘The Minister': a self-appointed boss who through bluff and mimicry captures popular fantasies of power and bossism in Indian Punjab; and finally ‘The Godfather': an elected don in a Machiavellian provincial town in Bangladesh. We focus on the impacts of bossism on the everyday lives of citizens and discuss how and why 'Mafia Raj' regimes remain largely uncontested and go hand in hand with competitive electoral democracies and high level of popular political participation.

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