Electoral ripples: The social life of lies and mistrust in an Indian village election

Radhika Govindrajan


Anthropologists who study elections tend to restrict their analysis to the run-up to and conduct of an election and only its immediate aftermath. This article suggests that this approach misses the complicated afterlife of elections. Through an ethnographic analysis of a village election in India, the article proposes the concept of “electoral ripples” to capture the enduring transformations in ordinary sociality that are caused by a particular election well past its formal end. Instead of offering a general theory of events, this article explores the way in which the specific unfolding of a distinctive repetitive event impacts the social. It traces how the dilemmas generated by this election triggered many voters to lie about whom they had voted for. The shifting nature and the unprecedented scale of the social deception thus unleashed caused electoral rifts to ripple through the future in ways that seemed to undermine the very possibility of social relationships.


elections, anthropology of lies, deception, India, secrecy, democratic politics

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/698406