The abstract for Govind’s project reads:
How do states act or exert their presence from a distance, especially when targets of action are separated by diverse and nested milieus of stateness? In addressing this question, the paper will draw centrally upon scholarship in three domains – governance of science and technology, anthropology of the state especially in postcolonial environments, and actor network theorizing of the state – to develop a conceptually grounded explanation. While a common concern across these domains has been to interpret the co-production of science/technology, society and state through concepts such as “boundary organization,” “state spatiality,” and “scaling devices,” one related theme that has attracted far less attention within these fields has been to understand how states act and make their presence felt at a distance across scale and space. This direction of inquiry is particularly intriguing when such actions intersect multiple and imbricated ontologies of stateness that exist at national, regional, provincial, and urban levels. Drawing from these literatures, in this paper I will use the example of a recent policy project in India as a case. NURM (or the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) is a vast national policy exercise launched in 2005 that seeks to transform governance of technical infrastructures in 65 major cities in India by emplacing a host of new mechanisms, venues and devices to reconfigure state-society relations. Empirically investigating NURM, this study will situate and extend our understanding of how postcolonial states operate at a distance and across different scales from the national to the urban.