blurred boundaries: the discourse of corruption, the culture of politics, and the imagined state



In this article I attempt to do an ethnography of the state by examining the discourses of corruption in contemporary India. I focus on the practices of lower levels of the bureaucracy in a small north Indian town as well as on representations of the state in the mass media. Research on translocal institutions such as “the state” enables us to reflect on the limitations of participant-observation as a technique of fieldwork. The analysis leads me to question Eurocentric distinctions between state and civil society and offers a critique of the conceptualization of “the state” as a monolithic and unitary entity. [the state, public culture, fieldwork, discourse, corruption, India]