The complex relationship between subordinated groups and the state
has been the subject of detailed scrutiny in both historical and ethno-
graphic research (see, for example, Roy 1994; Bayat 1997; Wedeen
1999; Chatterjee 2006; Goldberg 2007; Wolford 2010). For the most
part, this research has empirically attended to instances when this rela-
tionship has broken down—that is, when it has erupted in episodes of
mass contention or explosive insurgency or when it has called for the
deployment of the state’s visible iron fist (Joseph and Nugent 1994;
Eckstein 2001; Edelman 2001; Auyero 2003; Wood 2003; Johnston
and Almeida 2006; Almeida 2008). However, there are many other
forms of engagement between the state and subaltern groups, both the
hidden ones embodied in the pernicious operation of clandestine kicks
and the routine, ordinary ones of welfare clients and poisoned outcasts
enduring long and uncertain delays.
Taken together, the fairly consistent ways in which poor people
experience their waiting point to their overall mode of relating to the
state: what I would call the ‘‘patient’’ model. To be an actual or poten-
tial welfare recipient, a shantytown dweller su√ering toxic assault and
(always) about to be relocated, or a legal alien awaiting an id is to be
subordinated to the will of others. The poor are, in this relationship,
the subject of a constant kicking around ( peloteo). They are pawns in
the midst of the state’s not-quite-evident forces, or the ‘‘playballs of a
thousand chances,’’ to recall Engels’s phrase. Much like the lower-class
and lower-middle-class men and women in Istanbul interviewed by
Anna Secor, the subjects in this book trace their own ‘‘narratives of
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