Territorialising control in urban West Bengal: social clubs and everyday governance in the spaces between state and party

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Analysis of politics in urban West Bengal has focussed on the near hegemonic control of political parties and the state on daily life – overlooking or under-accounting for the complex institutional assemblages that shape spaces of the political in daily life. Addressing this empirical gap, this paper examines the role of social clubs, who discursive imagine themselves to be not political in governing the city. Drawing on De Certeau’s (1984) theory of practice, I demonstrate the ways that clubs, as a particular socio-cultural institution, territorialise power in order to produce governable space and in turn act as both alternative to the state and party and intermediaries with them. Mobilising evidence from extensive qualitative research on governance in two small cities I seek to complicate and nuance existing narratives on everyday politics, the party and the role of clubs in West Bengal. In doing offer theoretical contributions to the ways we understand political subjects and the social production of the heterogeneous overlapping territories of governance that characterise postcolonial cities.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Early online date27 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jul 2019


  • West Bengal, De Certeau, everyday governance, urban politics, India, political subjects