| State-making and Development: Politics, Popular Culture and Law

Course Information

  • 2022-23
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)
  • IV, V
  • Jul 2022
  • Elective Course

The purpose of this course is to understand the process of state making in India through the ideas of ‘development’ from the lens of popular culture and law. The course both builds on the themes that are discussed in a previous course, ‘Law, Poverty and Development’, and also discusses different ones and taps into an altogether different set of materials and literature. Rather than discuss and critique the economic policies of different development models, this course focuses on how ideas like ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’ legitimise and organise state power; how law is an integral instrument of not only state power but also of subject formation; and importantly, how different conceptions, promises and anxieties of development and nationalism are communicated, circulated and critiqued in the everyday life of the nation through popular culture.

 Apart from book chapters and scholarly articles, the seminar course engages with political speeches, films, political cartoons and posters, Constituent Assembly debates, and other government documents like the Five Year plans. While students who have already studied LPD will find this course complimenting the themes covered earlier and deepen their understanding of these issues, students who are new to the subject will also find it useful.

The course will use a combination of pedagogical tools but will mainly rely on lecture and seminar style discussions. For most classes, depending on the particular module, a few students will be expected to lead the class discussion as discussants. The readings will be limited but focussed and students are expected to engage with the material in light of a given set of questions.

Broadly speaking the course is divided into four modules: the first module lays down certain theoretical concepts that will be used throughout the course, the second and third modules cover colonialism and the post-colonial period, and the last module traces the contemporary continuities of the techniques of state-making. Details of the modules are given below.


Rashmi Venkatesan

Assistant Professor of Law