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Alexandra Schwell

This article explores how the fluctuating cartography of East and West and the varying degrees of perceptive Europeanness influence everyday practices of the people working in Polish state bureaucracies, who professionally advance European integration within a national framework. While an important part of their self-image is formed through the dissociation from cultural 'Eastness' and the backwardness they ascribe to fellow citizens, they still experience negative stereotyping and mistrust from the part of the EU-15 'Westerners'. Consequently, East-Central European state officials oscillate on the continuum between cultural 'East' and 'West' and constantly negotiate distance, relatedness and thus their own liminal position. By scrutinising how Polish state officials aim at positioning themselves on the mental map of Europe, this article shows that they attempt to escape the cultural pattern of negative stereotyping and mistrust by using a functionalist narrative of efficiency. This is a rhetorical strategy employed to cope with existing asymmetries.

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Nonrecording the “European refugee crisis” in Greece

Navigating through irregular bureaucracy

Katerina Rozakou

one police officer named “irregular” bureaucracies: nonrecording practices and modes of dealing with irregular migration in improvised ways. In a setting of “cultural intimacy” ( Herzfeld 1997 ), police officers confided in me as a fellow Greek what

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Migrant Residents in Search of Residences

Locating Structural Violence at the Interstices of Bureaucracies

Megan Sheehan

bureaucracy—at entry, in visa processing, through labor regulations, in accessing housing, and through services like education and health care. The Chilean government has invested heavily in crafting itself as open, welcoming, and multicultural. 1 However

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Introduction

Ethnographic Engagement with Bureaucratic Violence

Erin R. Eldridge and Amanda J. Reinke

Defying commonly held perceptions, anthropological studies have revealed that bureaucracies are not simply mundane, stagnant administrative structures. They are, as Anya Bernstein and Elizabeth Mertz argue, interactive sociocultural worlds where

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The Magic of Bureaucracy

Repatriation as Ceremony

Laura Peers

magic of bureaucracy that ultimately effects the repatriation. Repatriation is a series of performances, formal institutional and cultural rituals, that articulate and reinforce, as well as challenge, identities and relations of power. Museums, as

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Mimesis and Conspiracy

Bureaucracy, New Media and the Infrastructural Forms of Doubt

Michael Vine and Matthew Carey

it, contending that the mimetic propensity of conspiracy is not limited to questions of style. Instead, we argue, the encompassing social infrastructure of bureaucracy both delimits and determines the content of conspiratorial thought, while the

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Capacity Building as Instrument and Empowerment

Training Health Workers for Community-Based Roles in Ghana

Harriet Boulding

is that of whether it is possible for concepts such as capacity building to retain the political elements of empowerment and social justice when deployed in contexts such as health sector bureaucracies, in which the language and architecture repel the

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Decolonizing Cambridge University

A Participant Observer’s View

Keith Hart

Congress government after 1994. When violent confrontation died down, the issue was transformed into the ‘decolonization’ of university curricula. Academic bureaucracy then took over from private security squads in the management of the process. I have

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Administrative guidelines as a source of immigration law?

Ethnographic perspectives on law at work and in the making

Larissa Vetters

This article makes a conceptual and methodological argument for ethnographically studying a certain type of paperwork in immigration bureaucracies, namely internal administrative guidelines. Much ethnographic research has focused on case files, application forms, identity documents and judicial decisions attempting to shed light on bureaucrats’ discretionary power and migrants’ strategies of navigating immigration laws. This article shifts attention from bureaucrats’ discretionary practices to their efforts to standardise and codify their own practices. The administrative guidelines of the Foreigners’ Registration Office of Berlin and the visa guidelines of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany are examined as legal documents that are produced in a web of textually grounded legal meanings, as well as in a meshwork of social and political relations and in turn reconfigure both social relations and legal meanings. Contextualised in such a way, these administrative guidelines shed light not only on ‘immigration law at work’ but also on ‘immigration law in the making’.

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Introduction

Remaking the Public Good

Laura Bear and Nayanika Mathur

In this introductory article, we call for a new anthropology of bureaucracy focused on 'the public good'. We aim to recapture this concept from its classic setting within the discipline of economics. We argue that such a move is particularly important now because new public goods – of transparency, fiscal discipline and decentralization – are being pressed into the service of states and transnational organizations: it has therefore become critical to focus on their techniques, effects and affects through fine-grained ethnography that challenges the economization of the political. We demonstrate our approach through some ethnographic findings from different parts of India. These show how fiscal austerity leads to new limited social contracts and precarious intimacies with the post-liberalization Indian state. This relationship between new public goods and forms of precarious citizenship is then further illuminated by the six articles that follow in this special issue.