ARI Working Paper Series
WPS 261 The Familiar Face of the State: Affect, Emotion and Citizen Entitlements in Dehradun, India
Publisher : Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Publication Date : Jul / 2017
Author/Speaker: Tanya JAKIMOW
Keywords : India, governance, municipal councillors, citizen entitlements, affect, emotion

Municipal Councillors (MCs) are the ‘familiar face of the state’ in Dehradun, India: the first port of call for citizens seeking to claim entitlements from the state. The way MCs respond to the requests of their constituents is a major factor in the uneven distribution of government welfare and services. This article seeks to contribute to understandings of citizen entitlements by drawing attention to the role of affect and emotion in shaping the interactions between MCs and ‘voters’. I examine the ways citizens consciously or unconsciously engender emotions and affective responses, and the effect these have in mobilising MCs. Attention to the at times involuntary nature of these responses suggests a need to go beyond the instrumental and calculative motivations of municipal councillors, to consider the way they are compelled and animated to meet the demands of some citizens, but not others. The ability to affect, and the ways one is affected, are tied to social identities and self-making projects of both MC and ‘voter’, resulting in uneven (mal)distribution of state resources. A focus on women MCs hints at the gendered nature of these affective mobilizations, and the need to rethink conventional understandings of local governance.