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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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Slum politics

Community leaders, everyday needs, and utopian aspirations in Recife, Brazil

Martijn Koster and Pieter A. de Vries

This article envisages slum dwellers' politics in Recife, Brazil as a realm of possibility in which care and recognition are central. Community leaders are its main facilitators as articulators of slum dwellers' needs and aspirations. The article's notion of slum politics is an elaboration of Chatterjee's (2004) ideas on popular politics as a “politics of the governed.“ Yet the article critiques the governmentality perspective for its inability to envisage a politics of hope and possibility. It distinguishes among slum politics, governmental politics (projects and programs), and electoral politics (voting), which are entwined and interdependent, but different. Zooming in on a community leader's urban agriculture project, the article argues that this project, which from an outsiders' perspective may be considered non-viable, provided slum dwellers with possibilities to strive for community solidarity and personal recognition. Slum politics, the article concludes, is about claiming the right to be counted and recognized, and about the care for the other.

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Christian Lund, Anthony D. Buckley, Gavin Smith, Martijn Koster, Johannes Stahl, Elizabeth Tonkin, and Luisa Steur

Deema Kaneff, Who owns the past? The politics of time in a ‘model’ Bulgarian village

William F. Kelleher Jr., The troubles in Ballybogoin: Memory and identity in Northern Ireland

Don Kalb and Herman Tak, Critical junctions: Anthropology and history beyond the cultural turn

Jonathan Xavier Inda (ed.), Anthropologies of modernity: Foucault, governmentality, and life politics

Tatjana Thelen, Privatisierung und soziale Ungleichheit in der osteuropäischen Landwirtschaft. Zwei Fallstudien aus Ungarn und Rumänien

André Celtel, Categories of self: Louis Dumont’s theory of the individual

Gerald Sider, Living Indian histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora people in North Carolina