CANCELLED: Capability, Connectivity, Co-ethnicity: Who Becomes a Slum Leader in India?


Thursday, February 11, 2016, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, 124 Mount Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

The Ash Center regrets that this seminar has been cancelled.  We hope to reschedule at a later date. 

The Ash Center cordially invites you to a discussion with Tariq Thachil, the Peter Strauss Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Yale University, and a Research Fellow at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies.  This event is part of the Center's Comparative Democracy Seminar Series. 

How do the political brokers essential to machine politics emerge? Existing scholarship take brokers as a static given, and cannot address how they initially build the following of voters that make them attractive to political elites. We address this crucial question through a study of a pervasive and emergent broker across the global south—informal slum leaders. We use an ethnographically informed conjoint survey experiment to identify the citizen preferences informing slum leader selection across two major north Indian cities (N=2200). Our analysis finds that shared ethnicity – the overwhelming focus of contemporary scholarship on political selection in Asia and Africa- is often trumped by non-ethnic indicators of a broker’s capability and connectivity to urban bureaucracies.  These findings shed light on the origins of patron-client hierarchies, as well as the political shifts engendered by rapid urbanization across the global south.