Publication Type: Journal article / chapter
Countries: India
Authors: Richard Axelby
Funders: ERC

This article uses decisions about voting, including the decision not to vote, as a prism to consider what it means to be Gaddi in 21st-century Himachal Pradesh (H.P.). While the results of polls can tell us how people voted, they say little about the background to electoral decision-making—the reasoning by which interests, identities, and ideologies are compressed into the simple choice between candidates. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research in rural Chamba district, the article tracks participation in elections for the H.P. State Legislative Assembly and a local Panchayat from 2000 to 2022. The paper concludes by presenting electoral contests as arenas in which the performance of citizenship is entangled with shifting forms of identity combining the social, administrative, and political.