The Mimicry of the State as a State Practice

The Regulation of Rickshaw Licenses in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Author: Bert Suykens


Around half a million cycle rickshaws are currently active in Dhaka, Bangladesh. With only 86,000 official licenses available, different types of organizations supply licenses to most rickshaw drivers. These non-official licenses mimic the language of the state. This article argues that while these licenses appear as part of non-state, hybrid, or twilight institutions, they in fact constitute a state practice. Based on approximately 200 semi-structured interviews at six locations in Dhaka and offering a conceptualization of the Bangladesh state as a party-state, the article shows that the operation of non-official rickshaw licenses and the mimicry entailed is an inherent part of party-state governance, one which is not morally neutral. While most respondents saw the everyday benefits of non-official licenses in the absence of sufficient official ones, the latter remained the most prized and, if made available, respondents agreed that the former would become redundant.

Regions: South Asia
Countries: Bangladesh

Download complete article from Taylor & Francis Online

September 2018
© Arthur Jones, PhD