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This chapter analyzes two ways that Indian programmers materialize cognitive work—telling jokes and giving gifts. Though much anthropological attention has focused recently on the gift as a site to think through contemporary capitalism and its alternatives, jokes have been given less attention. Putting jokes and gifts together suggests another reading of the gift—as a material instantiation of the problem of commensuration. Both jokes and gifts help commensurate the dictates of work and the demands of middle-class identity. The chapter argues that jokes help ease the racial division of labor that Indian IT workers experience in the office by doing affective...

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