November 2022

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Room 113, School of Arts and Sciences


Claiming the State: India's Active Citizenship in Global Perspective

Seminar and Lecture Series

Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner

Associate Professor of Politics and Global Studies
University of Virginia

Citizens around the world look to the state for a wide range of services and protections, but often struggle to access services and security. In this lecture, Dr Kruks-Wisner will present research on the everyday practices through which citizens from across the global south -- from India, South Africa, Mexico, and Colombia -- make claims on the state, asking whether, how, and when they engage public officials in the pursuit of essential public services and social and physical protection. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in rural India, Kruks-Wisner demonstrates that claim-making is possible in settings (poor and remote) and among people (lower classes and castes) where much democratic theory would be unlikely to predict it. Examining the conditions that foster and inhibit citizen action, she finds that greater social and spatial exposure -- made possible when individuals traverse boundaries of caste, neighbourhood, or village -- builds citizens' political knowledge, expectations, and linkages to the state, and is associated with higher levels and broader repertoires of claim-making. Placing these findings in a global comparative context, she argues that everyday citizen claim-making activity, which occurs between elections and below mass movements, is a critical but understudied form of political engagement.


Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner