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From the “state-idea” to “politically organized subjection”: Revisiting Abrams in times of crisis in Turkey and EU-Europe

Katharina Bodirsky

Keywords: Europe; hegemony; neoliberal authoritarianism; Philip Abrams; stateidea; Turkey

Abstract

Philip Abrams’s notion of the “state-idea” has been of immense influence in the anthropology of the state. This article suggests a contrary reading of Abrams’s “Notes on the difficulty of studying the state” (1988) that focuses instead on his notion of “politically organized subjection,” which allows us to examine contemporary statehood in crisis where political practice increasingly seems “unmasked.” The article examines such strategies of politically organizing subjection in the contexts of current EU-Europe and Turkey. It highlights the role of hegemony-building strategies that do not so much mask political practice as openly promote polarization in society, directing ideological and material efforts at strengthening leadership over the own class alliance and using both overt and structural coercion to suppress political projects opposed to neoliberal authoritarianism.

Affiliations

Bodirsky, Katharina - Middle East Technical University