Video abstract – Grace Carswell and Geert De Neve talk about 'Why Indians Vote: Reflections on Rights, Citizenship, and Democracy from a Tamil Nadu Village'

Just after the Indian election, and three months before it comes out in the print edition of Antipode in September, here we present ‘Why Indians Vote: Reflections on Rights, Citizenship, and Democracy from a Tamil Nadu Village‘ by Grace Carswell and Geert De Neve.

Their paper is an analysis of democracy and political participation in India through an ethnographic study of the meanings attached to voting in Tamil Nadu. The study was conducted in a rural constituency during the 2009 national elections, and explored the variety of motivations that compel people to vote, including popular understandings of the rights and duties of citizens, programmatic policies and their local implementation, commitment to caste, party loyalties, and the authority of charismatic leaders. Grace and Geert examine the roots of the political consciousness and rights awareness that underpin high levels of electoral participation, suggesting that elections form unique moments that allow ordinary people to experience an individual sense of citizenship and democracy while at the same time allowing them to pursue projects of recognition, respect and assertion as members of communities. It is, they contend, this dual feature that makes voting so enduringly attractive to India’s contemporary electorate.

Grace Carswell is a senior lecturer in the Department of Geography at University of Sussex. Her research covers rural livelihoods, population-environment interactions and agricultural change, focusing on Uganda, Ethiopia and, more recently, India. Geert De Neve is a reader in Sussex’s Anthropology Department. His research covers the politics of labour in India’s informal economy, the impacts of economic liberalisation on Indian garment industries, and the politics of CSR, NGO activism and corporate governance. As well as Antipode, Grace and Geert have published in the Journal of Agrarian Change, Economic and Political Weekly, Economy and Society, Geoforum, Contributions to Indian Sociology and the Forum for Development Studies.

As well as ‘Why Indians Vote’, Antipode 46(4) will contain:

Symposium: Grammars of Urban Injustice

Introduction by Gordon MacLeod and Colin McFarlane

Does the Punitive Need the Supportive? A Sympathetic Critique of Current Grammars of Urban Injustice by Geoff DeVerteuil;

Modes of Attentiveness: Reading for Difference in Geographies of Homelessness by Jon May and Paul Cloke;

The Urban Injustices of New Labour’s “New Urban Renewal”: The Case of the Aylesbury Estate in London by Loretta Lees;

The Myth of “Broken Britain”: Welfare Reform and the Production of Ignorance by Tom Slater;

From Politicization to Policing: The Rise and Decline of New Social Movements in Amsterdam and Paris by Justus Uitermark and Walter Nicholls;

Building a City For “The People”: The Politics of Alliance-Building in the Sydney Green Ban Movement by Kurt Iveson;


Rent, Real Estate, and Flood Mitigation in New Orleans East by Vern Baxter;

On the Performativity of Pill Pricing: Theory and Reality in the Economics of Global Pharmaceuticalization by Brett Christophers;

How Finance Penetrates its Other: A Cautionary Tale on the Financialization of a Dutch University by Ewald Engelen, Rodrigo Fernandez and Reijer Hendrikse;

Urban Community Gardens as Spaces of Citizenship by Rina Ghose and Margaret Pettygrove; and

Primitive Accumulation and the Production of Abstract Space: Nineteenth-century Mire Reclamation on Gotland by Tom Mels.