ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Biopolitics of RWA Governance: Imbrications of Sovereign and Governmental Power in Greater Noida


kumari suruchi - Jawaharlal Nehru University, Centre for the study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, New Delhi, India
Shrimali Parth


11 – Rethinking governmentality: Sovereign agency beyond the state in South Asia


This paper examines how the exceptional governance’ of Industrial Model Township, emergence of residential associations—legitimized through claims of democratic participation and self-representation of local community—and technologies of neoliberal governmentality combine to produce “localized forms of sovereignty” that are “nested within higher sovereignties”. In post-liberalization India, emergence and proliferation of resident associations on the urban landscape have engendered reconfigurations of local authority and governance marked by private management and outsourcing to non-elected bodies. Based on empirical data drawn from residential welfare associations in an industrial township, Greater Noida, we argue that the increasing role of elite RWAs in local governance gives rise to new forms of territorial control and regulation that invite us to rethink a) State-centric conception of sovereignty and b) the Foucauldian distinction between sovereign and governmental power. Two important aspects discussed in this paper are: a) how RWAs have supplanted constitutional local bodies and their implications for democratic participation and b) how governmental techniques of identification and control are deployed to regulate the movement of particular bodies. These two aspects highlight the tension between formal, constitutional rights as citizens (freedom of movement and livelihood) and the control and regulation of particular bodies as populations subject to biopolitical power.