Kavita Philip - Pirate Copying, Jugaad Economics: Postcolonial Tech and Developmental Leapfrogging





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Published on Mar 12, 2015

Dr. Kavita Philip (History, Women’s Studies, UC-Irvine) at the Center for 21st Century Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. March 6, 2015.

"Pirate Copying, Jugaad Economics: Postcolonial Technologies and Developmental Leapfrogging"

A range of business strategists, most famously C. K. Prahlad, have argued that India’s “bottom billion”—the people who live and work informally at the bottom of emerging economies, and with little assistance or recognition from the powers above—practice a form of flexible and inventive problem-solving that makes them the creative center of future capitalist expansion.

To readers familiar with the gloomy predictions of post-colonial theorists and South Asian historians, however, recent economic theories perform a paradox. How is it that a postcolonial economy regarded at mid-century as doomed by an exploding impoverished population, came to be seen a half century later as the beacon of hope for the future?

In this talk, Kavita Philip explores the links between the ways in which new forms of property have been redefined around the threat of the pirate, even as political economy has been revivified by the spirit of jugaad, an improvisational, contingent ethic of practice that putatively confounds the assumptions of universal progress and romantic localism.


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