Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of California / Berkeley

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Berkeley
The Measurement of Measure: Labour as a Form of Regulation

In this project I will study how labour as a category and the regulation of labour are articulated by the auto-rickshaw meter in Delhi, India and the relations which the meter grounds. As a measuring device, the meter gathers together many technologies. How are we to best approach these and other technical and institutional constructs as they relate to the meter – as prostheses, supplements, extensions, infrastructures? In its most general form, my question is – what is it that the meters measure, what do they put in relation in doing so, and ultimately what form of relation is measure? Most recently, such questions are mediated by the addition of GPS to auto-rickshaw meters, and the emergence of new business and regulatory models which exploit this. There is an emerging potential for fundamental reorganisations of the city as a workplace, of its topography and the political economic forms in which new forms of labour may emerge, and in the context and categories through which the distinction between work and non-work may be negotiated. The project is framed against the background of recent treatments of the dynamics of privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation as well as neo-liberalism in India, and developments in the structure and organisation of labour and its definition and targeting for regulation of the economy. Central to these development is the reframing of many policies touching on employment and social welfare grounded in technical and institutional definitions and measurements of poverty. In many cases, the work done to transform central concepts in existing labour and welfare regimes is carried out by the manipulation and circulation of metrics associated with poverty, rather than offering new definitions, positions, or ideologies. My project addresses these dynamics within the context of economic anthropology and labour history, adding to the rich traditions of inquiry concerning the relationship between labour and measure.