Poor people confront the state on an everyday basis all over the world. But how do they see the state, and how are these engagements conducted? This book considers the Indian case where people's accounts, in particular in the countryside, are shaped by a series of encounters that are staged at the local level, and which are also informed by ideas that are circulated by the government and the broader development community. Drawing extensively on fieldwork conducted in eastern India and their broad range of expertise, the authors review a series of key debates in development studies on participation, good governance, and the structuring of political society. They do so with particular reference to the Employment Assurance Scheme and primary education provision. Seeing the State engages with the work of James Scott, James Ferguson and Partha Chatterjee, and offers a new interpretation of the formation of citizenship in South Asia.