In India, the practice of jugaad—finding workarounds or hacks to solve problems—emerged out of subaltern strategies of negotiating poverty, discrimination, and violence but is now celebrated in management literature as a disruptive innovation. In Jugaad Time: Ecologies of Everyday Hacking in India (Duke UP, 2019) Amit S. Rai explores how jugaad operates within contemporary Indian digital media cultures through the use of the mobile phone. Rai shows that despite being co-opted by capitalism to extract free creative labor from the workforce, jugaad is simultaneously a practice of everyday resistance, as workers and communities employ hacks to oppose corporate, caste, and gender power. Locating the tensions surrounding jugaad—as both premodern and postdigital, innovative and oppressive—Rai maps how jugaad can be used to undermine neoliberal capitalist media ecologies and nationalist politics.
Sneha Annavarapu is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago.