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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.

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Contingent Statehood

Clientelism and Civic Engagement as Relational Modalities in Contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina

Larissa Vetters

This article analyzes clientelism and civic engagement as two relational modalities adopted by the residents of Mostar to obtain state-funded housing assistance in the face of rapid political transformation, economic insecurity, and post-conflict reconstruction. Couched in historical and contemporary discourses of deservingness and harking back to spatial imaginaries that evolved during the socialist era, both modalities converge in the notion of raseljeni, a post-war administrative category denoting an internally displaced person. Despite their apparent differences, the ultimate goal of both modalities is to establish sustainable channels of communication and productive relations with state authorities. Such relational modalities not only facilitate citizens' access to public resources, but also lend continuity and coherence to a fragmented state apparatus. In the process, they give rise to distinct political subjectivities and notions of political community.

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The Turn of the Offended

Clientelism in the Wake of El Salvador's 2009 Elections

Ainhoa Montoya

This article explores how the affective dynamics involved in elections and routine politics might inform us about the conditions of possibility of specific political imaginaries. It builds upon research conducted during and after El Salvador's 2009 presidential election. Passions ran high among Salvadorans on both the left and the right that electoral season, as allusions to wartime elicited unsettled divisions and offenses. For many left-wing and disaffected Salvadorans, the victory of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front—a former guerrilla organization—opened up a political horizon that had been closed during the post-war era. Salvadorans' post-election engagement with state officials and FMLN leaders through clientelist practices evidenced their desire for qualitative state transformation and the extent to which they conceive of themselves as citizens through the state.

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Postsocialist Mediterranean

Scalar gaze, moral self, and relational labor of favors in Eastern Europe

Čarna Brković

This article opens a conversation between anthropological studies of the Mediterranean and of postsocialism in order to propose the notion of a “scalar gaze” as an analytical approach useful for capturing veering practices in their social complexity. The article argues that favors (veze/štela, lit. relations, connections) in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina were a practice through which people fulfilled the demands of capitalist economy to be active, rather than a pre-capitalist excess that prevented “proper” development of the country into a neoliberal democracy. Zooming in and out and looking sideways between moral reasoning, internationally supervised structural changes of the job markets, and electoral politics, this article explores how the relational labor of favors reproduced moral selves, as well as hierarchy and inequality.

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Audit failure and corporate corruption

Why Mediterranean patron-client relations are relevant for understanding the work of international accountancy firms

Cris Shore

Patron-clientelism and corruption were traditionally viewed as problems endemic to underdeveloped marginal countries with weak states, powerful self-serving elites, and widespread civic disengagement. However, recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in corruption scandals in the Global North, particularly its more developed banking and financial sectors. Paradoxically, this has occurred despite a massive expansion in auditing by international accountancy firms (KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, EY) who often portray themselves as warriors of integrity, transparency, and ethical conduct. How are these trends connected? Drawing on anthropological studies of Mediterranean patron-clientelism, I illustrate how collusive relations between accountancy firms and their clients create ideal conditions for corruption to flourish. Finally, I ask how can these accountancy scandals help us rethink patron-clientelism in an age of “audit culture”?

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Aurélie Godet, Andre Thiemann, Fabiana Dimpflmeier, Anne-Erita Berta, Giuseppe Tateo, Alexandra Schwell, Greca N. Meloni, and Lieke Wijnia

Jean-François Bert and Elisabetta Basso (eds) (2015), Foucault à Münsterlingen. À l’origine de l’Histoire de la folie (Paris: Éditions de l’EHESS), 285 pp., €24, ISBN 9782713225086.

Čarna Brković (2017), Managing Ambiguity: How Clientelism, Citizenship, and Power Shape Personhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Oxford: Berghahn), 208 pp., $120.00/£85.00, ISBN 9781785334146.

William A. Douglass (2015), Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean (Reno: University of Nevada Press), 230 pp., $24.95, ISBN 9781935709602.

Peter Naccarato, Zachary Nowak and Elgin K. Eckert (eds) (2017), Representing Italy through Food (London: Bloomsbury Academic), 269 pp., £85, ISBN 9781474280419.

Bruce O’Neill (2017), The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order (Durham: Duke University Press), 280 pp., $25.95, ISBN 9780822363286.

Tomasz Rakowski (2016), Hunters, Gatherers, and Practitioners of Powerlessness: An Ethnography of the Degraded in Postsocialist Poland (Oxford: Berghahn), 332 pp., $130.00/£92.00, ISBN 9781785332401.

Antonio Sorge (2015), Legacies of Violence: History, Society, and the State in Sardinia (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 232 pp., $24.61, ISBN 9781442627291.

Helena Wulff (ed.) (2016), The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford: Berghahn), 288 pp., $130.00/£92.00, ISBN 9781785330186.

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Vertical Love

Forms of Submission and Top-Down Power in Orthodox Ethiopia

Diego Maria Malara and Tom Boylston

referred to clientelism. God is expected to be just in the sense of rewarding those who obey and worship Him … Rewards should be bestowed on them, not for their merits, but for their submission, for their acceptance of the role of God’s servants. Divine

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The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Central and Eastern Europe

The Rise of Autocracy and Democratic Resilience

Petra Guasti

the crisis response body. Nevertheless, even then, the personal protective equipment (PPE) acquisition continued as a form of political competition between the coalition partners. The price was transparency and clientelism. The pushback against the

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Sheikhs and the City

Urban Paths of Contention in Sidon, Lebanon

Are John Knudsen

Tripoli center to Sidon. This provided the Assir movement with a political platform amidst the city's entrenched poverty and clientelism, thus demonstrating the concomitant link between “Sheiks and the city” as detailed in the conclusion. This article is

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Pac'Stão versus the City of Police

Contentious Activism Facing Megaprojects, Authoritarianism, and Violence

Einar Braathen

overcome the combination of social fragmentation and political clientelism. However, the ARV did not manage to develop a joint agenda with the public authorities, and not all the concerned communities supported it in this regard. Instead, the ARV responded