The panel aims to bring together a set of studies on the working of 'mafias' in the politics of the subcontinent. What does the term 'mafia' mean in South Asia? Who are 'the god fathers'? What is their role? What are the links/overlaps between local 'mafias', elected politicians and bureaucrats?
Remarkably few studies have explored the increasing recourse of politicians to violence and the entanglement of the extra-legal with the state spheres in South Asia. While there is a well-established literature on gangs, mafias, racketeering and black economies and their entanglements with politics in other parts of the world particularly in Africa, Russia, East and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Mediterranean, comparable research is largely missing in South Asia. The panel aims to bring together a set of ethnographic studies on the workings of organised extra-legal and violent practices in the politics of the subcontinent. What does the term 'mafia' mean in South Asia? Who are 'the god fathers'? What is their role? Is their relation to state politics similar or different compared to other mafias across the world? How do the South Asian 'land mafia', 'oil mafia', 'water mafia', 'milk mafia' and 'grain mafia' (among others) extract resources? What kind of services do they provide in return? Is protection the main service? And crucially - what are the links/overlaps between these 'mafias', elected politicians and bureaucrats in South Asia?