chapter  5
22 Pages

Ethnic violence and the daily politics of labour

However, there are aspects of the book’s argument that require complication and refinement. First, if discourse and critique are articulations of political consciousness, then one must consider that not all such expressions are as explicit as the systemic corruption discourse. Some political expressions are hard to detect, and exhibit great intellectual subtlety. Some are hard to interpret, since they speak in the register

of irony. Others are expressed only implicitly, in the social exchanges of everyday life. These types of political expressions are important technologies of class, since one necessarily requires a good deal of cultural intimacy in order to effectively engage with them. Second, if distinctions of pay and security on the Tata shop floor can be mediated through shared discourses on criminality and dispossession, then one must consider how the labour force negotiates other types of internal difference – the technologies for doing so may well be different. This chapter addresses these two issues through a focus on the subtle everyday practices by which the Tata working class negotiates its ethnic divisions, which are significant in a national climate of communal tension. If discourses of corruption enable a fractured labour force to speak in terms of shared experiences and values, then the practices described in this chapter resolve one of its most important internal cleavages.