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Textures of the OrdinaryDoing Anthropology after Wittgenstein$
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Veena Das

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823287895

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823287895.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

A Politics of the Ordinary

A Politics of the Ordinary

Action, Expression, and Everyday Life

(p.58) 2 A Politics of the Ordinary
Textures of the Ordinary

Veena Das

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on quotidian scenes through which the state is engaged over infrastructural projects, such as ensuring access to electricity and water in a locality in Delhi that has its origins in unauthorized occupations over land. One of the tasks in this chapter is to simply show the intensity and the kind of labor that goes into the task of getting electricity meters installed in a locality that falls outside the administrative category of a recognized colony. Apart from meeting the endless conditions setup by an inflexible bureaucracy and the mobilization of local support, the local leaders also work to ward off threats of violence from the mafia-like interests that develop around illegal supply of electricity in such localities. The chapter asks, does this work performed by the local leaders and their supporters count as politics? The chapter engages the theory of performative utterances and speech acts develop by of the philosopher J. L. Austin. Elucidating Cavell’s identification of passionate utterances as distinct from utterances with illocutionary force the chapter looks at the way emotion is laced into language putting into question the idea of stability of convention in the context of political work performed by the poor.

Keywords:   action, Austin, expression, desire, infrastructure, illocutionary force, language, passionate utterances, perlocutionary effects, politics, vulnerability

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