Adam Auerbach

Political Order an Infrastructural Development in India’s Urban Slums

The level of basic public goods and services—access to drinking water, proper sanitation, electricity, paved roads, public safety, and schools—varies widely across and within slums in India. What causes these developmental disparities? Slums are among the most densely populated and ethnically diverse areas in India. Residents exist at the margins of the state, in an environment defined by informality and illegality. Despite these shared conditions, slums exhibit incredible variation in the extent to which residents organize to mitigate pervasive risks, reduce conflict, and demand development from municipalities. Why do some slums develop institutions that advance the collective interests and security of residents while others fail? Drawing on variation in the extent and quality of community governance across India’s slums, Adam’s research illuminates the mechanisms that impede or facilitate
political organization in contexts of ethnic diversity, illegality, and patronage politics.

Adam Auerbach is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison specializing in a comparative political economy and quantitative methodology, with a regional focus on South Asia and India in particular. Adam also holds an MA in agricultural and applied economics and a doctoral minor in cultural anthropology from the same institution. He has studied, taught, and conducted research in South Korea, Thailand, and India on grants and fellowships from the Freeman-Asia Foundation, FLAS, Fulbright-IIE, the Scott Kloeck-Jenson Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for South Asia. During the summer of 2009, he contributed to development policy as a graduate intern for the National Institute of Urban Affairs in New Delhi. His dissertation, Cooperation in Uncertainty: Migration, Ethnicity, and Community Governance in India’s Urban Slums, examines the origins of political order and development in India’s urban slum settlements. The study rests on a comparative research design that combines 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in two north Indian cities with a larger quantitative study of original survey data. Adam’s dissertation fieldwork has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays, the National Science Foundation, and grants from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.