SOAS University of London

SOAS scholar awarded £95k UKRI fellowship for project on state-society relations in Bangladesh

9 October 2018

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Development Studies Dr David Jackman has been awarded £95,000 by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for a project on political order in Bangladesh at SOAS University of London.

The project, ‘Navigating the city: brokers and political order in Bangladesh’ examines street level brokers to understand the nature of state-society relationships in the region, and is funded through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Street level brokers including informers, extortionists, labour leaders and political muscle are a pervasive feature of urban Bangladesh. For the poor, relationships with these figures are often essential for accessing many of life’s basics, such as security, somewhere to live, and work. Understood conventionally, these brokers are often seen as symbolising a deeply dysfunctional society, where violence is used entrepreneurially, and corruption and criminality are widespread.

This project points in the opposite direction, understanding such figures as deeply constitutive of political order. By deploying life histories to examine how these brokers navigate the juncture between the masses and those in power, we can shed deeper light on the nature of state-society relations in Bangladesh, and illuminate the complex relationships between violence specialists that underpin political order. 

Dr Jackman will be mentored by SOAS’s Professor Jonathan Goodhand and will also be working closely with Professor Mushtaq Khan, Executive Director of the DFID-funded Anti-Corruption Evidence Research Consortium.

The project began in October 2018 and will run for one year.