The South Asian Studies Council Ethnography and Social Theory Colloquium presents:
Matthew Hull, University of Michigan: “Microbiota of the State: Police Procedure and Corporate Customer Service in India.”
In 2013 the Indian state of Punjab contracted with a corporation to operate a new police phone helpline. The corporation not only takes complaints but also monitors, directs, and reports police response to them. This talk explores the tensions and effects of using American techniques of customer service to promote procedural justice within police practices in India. It will explore the ideological, procedural, communicational, and technological practices through which police procedure is combined with corporate customer service. Moving beyond a concern with privatization, it reconceptualizes how to understand the involvement of outside actors within the state operations.
Matthew Hull is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the nexus of representation, technology, and institutions. His book, Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan (University of California Press, May 2012), examines governance as a semiotic and material practice through an account of the role of writing and written artifacts in the operations of city government in Islamabad. He has also worked on the deployment of American technologies of democracy in urban India from the late 1950s and early 1960s. He is currently working on the history and theory of the modern corporation and lotteries in India.