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Facing bureaucratic uncertainty in the Bolsa Família Program

Clientelism beyond reciprocity and economic rationality

Flávio Eiró and Martijn Koster

Clientelism is often analyzed along lines of moral values and reciprocity or an economic rationality. This article, instead, moves beyond this dichotomy and shows how both frameworks coexist and become entwined. Based on ethnographic research in a city in the Brazilian Northeast, it analyzes how the anti-poverty Bolsa Família Program and its bureaucracy are entangled with electoral politics and clientelism. We show how the program’s beneficiaries engage in clientelist relationships and exchanges to deal with structural precariousness and bureaucratic uncertainty. Contributing to understanding the complexity of clientelism, our analysis demonstrates how they, in their assessment of and dealing with political candidates, employ the frames of reference of both reciprocity and economic rationality in such a way that they act as a “counterpoint” to each other.

Open access

Monumental Suspension

Art, Infrastructure, and Eduardo Chillida's Unbuilt Monument to Tolerance

Isaac Marrero-Guillamón

an unbuilt dam in Thailand that looms large in the life of the villages waiting to be displaced. Land speculation, investment deferrals, extreme anxiety, and enhanced solidarity were some of the effects of the uncertainty and anticipation associated

Open access

Impatient Accumulation, Immediate Consumption

Problems with Money and Hope in Central Kenya

Peter Lockwood

have something of a theoretical monopoly on similar contexts of economic uncertainty and precarity—what Nauja Kleist and Stef Jansen (2016) call the ‘hope boom’ in anthropology. While such literature has made important strides toward conceptualizing

Open access

Looking for the child soldier

The judicial investigation in the case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo

Milena Jakšić

documents. 28 The parties in the courtroom had to come to terms with the randomness and uncertainty surrounding individuals’ identities. The witnesses’ credibility was also compromised by the factor that had made their selection possible, namely the use

Open access

Christine Moderbacher


More than a year after the Brussels district Molenbeek came to international attention as “ISIS's European capital,” an unplanned encounter during a visit at my former field site leads to a conversation about the struggles and concerns that people are facing in this much-talked-about place. The discussion on a small restaurant terrace wanders off into disappointments and adjustments during research and life and is marked by a shared feeling of uncertainty that mirrors the atmosphere of a city that has seldom been portrayed beyond ephemeral media descriptions.

Open access

Jane Shepard, Yves Laberge, and Julia Vorhölter

Uncertainty and Possibility: New Approaches to Future Making in Design Anthropology . Yoko Akama, Sarah Pink and Shanti Sumartojo, London: Bloomsbury, 2018, ISBN: 978-1-3500-027-1, 147 pp., Pb $53.99. Reviewed by Jane Shepard (Part of the

Open access

Ethnographic witnessing

Or, hope is the first anthropological emotion

Carole McGranahan

the political asylum process is not only about hope. It is also a process steeped in uncertainty, the very same state of being that has defined life in this pandemic. Uncertainty, political asylum and the expert witness Political asylum has

Open access

Janet Elise Johnson and Mara Lazda

, “Feminism Travels: Cautionary Tales,” in Feminism of Uncertainty: A Gender Diary (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 204–215. 3 Snitow, “Feminism Travels,” 205–206. 4 Ibid., 213. 5 See Gesine Fuchs and Eva-Maria Hinterhuber, “Neoliberal

Open access

A Social Negotiation of Hope

Male West African Youth, ‘Waithood’ and the Pursuit of Social Becoming through Football

Christian Ungruhe and James Esson

triumvirate of economic uncertainty ( Gough et al. 2013 ), political unrest ( Diouf 2003 ), and the reconfiguration of established cultural practices ( Masquelier 2005 ) now obstruct social mobility and trajectories to become a somebody . Alcinda Honwana

Open access

Governing Religious Multiplicity

The Ambivalence of Christian-Muslim Public Presences in Post-colonial Tanzania

Hansjörg Dilger

mold public space according to their own aspirations. They also arouse sensations of uncertainty and competition among a wide range of local, national, and transnational stakeholders in the country's “religiously super-diverse” ( Becci et al. 2017: 79