Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Patronage as Politics in South Asia

$127.99 ( ) USD

John Dunn, Anastasia Piliavsky, Mattison Mines, D. Seyfort Ruegg, Diane Mines, Sumit Guha, David Gilmartin, Lisa Björkman, Ward Berenschot, Pamela Price, Dusi Srinivas, Beatrice Jauregui, Steven I. Wilkinson, Lucia Michelutti, Arild Engelsen Ruud, Nicolas Martin, Hildegard Diemberger, Filippo Osella
View all contributors
  • Date Published: No date available
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316156681

$ 127.99 USD ( )
Adobe eBook Reader

You will be taken to for this purchase
Buy eBook Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

This title is not currently available for examination. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Western policymakers, political activists and academics alike see patronage as the chief enemy of open, democratic societies. Patronage, for them, is a corrupting force, a hallmark of failed and failing states, and the obverse of everything that good, modern governance ought to be. South Asia poses a frontal challenge for this consensus. Here the world's most populous, pluralist and animated democracy is also a hotbed of corruption with persistently startling levels of inequality. Patronage as Politics in South Asia confronts this paradox with calm erudition: sixteen essays by anthropologists, historians and political scientists show, from a wide range of cultural and historical angles, that in South Asia patronage is no feudal residue or retrograde political pressure, but a political form vital in its own right. This volume suggests that patronage is no foe to South Asia's burgeoning democratic cultures, but may in fact be their main driving force.

    • Provides in-depth ethnographic and historical studies of popular political life across South Asia
    • Contains contributions by anthropologists, historians and political scientists
    • Offers a new vision of democracy in South Asia and beyond
    • An extensive introduction offers a radically new vision of patronage, corruption and democracy in South Asia in a global comparative perspective
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "By insisting that what we call 'patronage' is above all a moral idiom, and by rejecting arguments that would prefer to confine patronage to the theoretical dustbin referred to as 'tradition', this brilliant volume will transform the study of South Asian politics. It combines a stellar assembly of researchers and imaginatively analysed case studies, and will provoke exciting debates about the past, present and future of democracy - both in South Asia itself, and far beyond."
    Jonathan Spencer, University of Edinburgh

    "It is remarkable how much the historical course in India is guided rather by institutional memories and their persisting structural paradigms. Testifying to this reproduction of the past in modern political garb, essay after essay of this fine work offers a nuanced, anthropological sense of how cultural order is revealed by historical change, even as the change manifests a historical order."
    Marshall Sahlins, Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Chicago

    "Even those of us who see the importance of patronage waning will find an abundance of crucial insights in these subtle, deeply learned analyses."
    James Manor, Emeka Anyaoku Professor Emeritus of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London

    "This excellent book demonstrates the importance of maintaining a focus on morality as it intersects with political and economic process … Drawing on rich empirical case material, it is a refreshing and revitalizing ‘return' to the category of patronage that will be valuable to both regional specialists and those with a broader interest in global political processes."
    Jon P. Mitchell, University of Sussex

    "This book, nominated for the Coomaraswamy Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, is perhaps the most comprehensive investigation of the concept in the South Asian context. It lends enormous comparative insight to the intricate process of patronage and its implication … the book has the potential to open up new frontiers of research on patronage politics, and will be seen as a work of enduring importance for scholars of most major disciplines on South Asia."
    Shaikh Mujibur Rehman, The Hindu

    "What happened to the dream of democracy or tryst with destiny that the first Prime Minister of independent India sought to implant in the citizens of free India? The question can be answered in several ways and some of the most effective responses are to be found in [this] book … a collection of articles by eminent writers and experts …"
    Uday Basu, The Statesman

    "Piliavsky's contributors, most of whom are anthropologists, offer fresh insights into the ways in which religious feasts, patronage handouts, and petty bureaucratic favors both support and undermine the state."
    Andrew J. Nathan, Foreign Affairs

    'I believe the fundamental direction of this collection is undoubtedly correct. Patronage is not one thing and it must be understood with reference to specific historical and ethnographic contexts. Nor can it be understood as isolated dyadic transactions, but instead it must be seen as part of a broader social and cultural network of intersecting relationships and values. … What the contributors have produced is a work of tremendous significance …' Stephen M. Lyon, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316156681
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Foreword John Dunn
    Introduction Anastasia Piliavsky
    Part I. The Idea of Patronage in South Asia:
    1. The political economy of patronage, pre-eminence and the State in Chennai Mattison Mines
    2. The temporal and the spiritual, and the so-called patron-client relation in the governance of Inner Asia and Tibet D. Seyfort Ruegg
    3. Remnants of patronage and the making of Tamil Valaiyar pasts Diane Mines
    4. Patronage and State-making in early modern empires in India and Britain Sumit Guha
    Part II. Democracy as Patronage:
    5. The paradox of patronage and the People's sovereignty David Gilmartin
    6. India's demotic democracy and its 'depravities' in the ethnographic longue durée Anastasia Piliavsky
    7. 'Vote banking' as politics in Mumbai Lisa Björkman
    8. Political fixers in India's patronage democracy Ward Berenschot
    9. Patronage and autonomy in India's deepening democracy Pamela Price, with Dusi Srinivas
    10. Police and legal patronage in northern India Beatrice Jauregui
    11. Patronage politics in post-Independence India Steven I. Wilkinson
    Part III. Prospects and Disappointments:
    12. Kingship without kings in northern India Lucia Michelutti
    13. The political bully in Bangladesh Arild Engelsen Ruud
    14. The dark side of patronage in the Pakistani Punjab Nicolas Martin
    15. Patronage and printing innovation in fifteenth-century Tibet Hildegard Diemberger
    16. The im(morality) of mediation and patronage in South India and the Gulf Filippo Osella

  • Resources for

    Patronage as Politics in South Asia

    General Resources

    Find resources associated with this title

    Type Name Unlocked * Format Size

    Showing of

    Back to top

    This title is supported by one or more locked resources. Access to locked resources is granted exclusively by Cambridge University Press to instructors whose faculty status has been verified. To gain access to locked resources, instructors should sign in to or register for a Cambridge user account.

    Please use locked resources responsibly and exercise your professional discretion when choosing how you share these materials with your students. Other instructors may wish to use locked resources for assessment purposes and their usefulness is undermined when the source files (for example, solution manuals or test banks) are shared online or via social networks.

    Supplementary resources are subject to copyright. Instructors are permitted to view, print or download these resources for use in their teaching, but may not change them or use them for commercial gain.

    If you are having problems accessing these resources please contact

  • Editor

    Anastasia Piliavsky, Zukerman Fellow in Social Anthropology, King's College, Cambridge
    Anastasia Piliavsky is a social anthropologist. She is a Research Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and Director of Studies in Social Anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge. She holds degrees from Boston University and from Oxford, where she read anthropology as a Rhodes Scholar. She has written about Indian politics, crime and secrecy for Comparative Studies in Society and History, Modern Asian Studies, Cambridge Anthropology and other journals. She is also co-Investigator on a collaborative study of democratic cultures and 'muscular' politics in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, funded by the European and British Research Councils.


    John Dunn, Anastasia Piliavsky, Mattison Mines, D. Seyfort Ruegg, Diane Mines, Sumit Guha, David Gilmartin, Lisa Björkman, Ward Berenschot, Pamela Price, Dusi Srinivas, Beatrice Jauregui, Steven I. Wilkinson, Lucia Michelutti, Arild Engelsen Ruud, Nicolas Martin, Hildegard Diemberger, Filippo Osella

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.