Violent Intermediaries and Political Order in Bangladesh
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The need for intermediaries to access resources, seek opportunities and mitigate risks has been observed in societies across the world. In poor people’s lives such actors are often violent, however why this is the case remains under examined. This article offers a response to this question from Bangladesh based on an understanding of political order. When violence is not consolidated by a central state, political order stems from balancing the interests of diverse violence specialists dispersed throughout society. In such contexts mediating access to resources can be a means by which these actors accrue power and wealth, helping explain the link between intermediation and violence. This argument is developed through an ethnographic case of labourers in a large bazar at the centre of Dhaka city. The case illuminates the dynamics of political factionalism and violent mobilization within a fractious period in Bangladesh’s recent history.
KeywordsViolence State Intermediation Brokerage Labour Politics Bangladesh
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant Numbers ES/J50015X/1 and ES/P500653/1). I would like to thank Joe Devine, Geof Wood, Mathilde Maitrot and Sam Hickey for reviewing earlier drafts of this article, as well as the guidance of anonymous reviewers.
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Conflict of interests
The author confirms that there is no conflict of interest
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