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Tatjana Thelen, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann

In the introduction to this special issue, we discuss recent trends in anthropological research on and in theorizing the state. We show how these have given rise to an analytical gap between state images, on the one hand, and practices, on the other. Based on this analysis, we propose a relational approach that we call 'stategraphy' as a way to tie together state practices and representations. This ethnographically grounded approach focuses on relational modalities, boundary work, and forms of embeddedness of actors as constitutive factors. These avenues of analyses enable a nuanced understanding and comparative investigation of change and continuity as well as of mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion.

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Jaap Bos, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, Ad Borsboom, Andrew Richards and Stephen Nugent

Anthony Elliott, Social theory since Freud: Traversing social imaginaries

James M. Donovan and H. Edwin Anderson, Anthropology and law by Keebet von Benda-Beckmann

Silvie Poirier, A world of relationships: Itineraries, dreams, and events in the Australian Western desert

Robert M. Fishman, Democracy’s voices: Social ties and the quality of public life in Spain

George Mentore, Of passionate curves and desirable cadences: Themes on Waiwai social being Suzanne Oakdale, I foresee my life: The ritual performance of autobiography in an Amazonian community