Cover of Timepass by Craig Jeffrey
Youth, Class, and the Politics of Waiting in India
Craig Jeffrey


232 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804770736
Paper ISBN: 9780804770743
Digital ISBN: 9780804775137
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Social and economic changes around the globe have propelled increasing numbers of people into situations of chronic waiting, where promised access to political freedoms, social goods, or economic resources is delayed, often indefinitely. But there have been few efforts to reflect on the significance of "waiting" in the contemporary world.

Timepass fills this gap by offering a captivating ethnography of the student politics and youth activism that lower middle class young men in India have undertaken in response to pervasive underemployment. It highlights the importance of waiting as a social experience and basis for political mobilization, the micro-politics of class power in north India, and the socio-economic strategies of lower middle classes. The book also explores how this north Indian story relates to practices of waiting occurring in multiple other contexts, making the book of interest to scholars and students of globalization, youth studies, and class across the social sciences.

About the author

Craig Jeffrey is a Fellow, Tutor, and University Lecturer in Geography at Oxford University. He is a coauthor of Degrees Without Freedom?: Education, Masculinities, and Unemployment in North India (Stanford, 2007).

"In this gracefully written book, Craig Jeffrey draws on fine ethnography to explore the little understood world of Indian youth, for long largely neglected by scholars, illuminating what it means to be a young man with aspirations and limited opportunities in today's India. A tour de force."

—John Harriss, Professor and Director of International Studies, Simon Fraser University

"Craig Jeffrey's lucid and insightful ethnography of young men of Meerut both challenges and helps refine our understanding of power and privilege in India by shifting the focus away from the metropolitan centers usually studied. He successfully demonstrates how the label 'Indian middle class' could only ever refer to a growing but fractured social formation. A timely and significant book."

—Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History and South Asian Studies, The University of Chicago

"Craig Jeffrey engages the classic questions on the relation between time, modernity, and discipline yet turns conventional wisdom on its head in this inspiring, witty, and deeply thoughtful book. Combining meticulous field research with a theoretical analysis of the highest order, he opens new pathways for understanding the intersection of neoliberal economy, democratic politics, and the sociality of masculinity in India. The book is a must read for those interested in contemporary India and in critical political theory."

—Veena Das, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Johns Hopkins University