After the excesses of fascism in World War II and inter-ethnic conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, and the former Yugoslavia, it became axiomatic for postmodernist thinkers to condemn the nation and its corollary terms, ‘nationalism’ and ‘nation-state,’ as the classic evils of modern industrial society. The nation-state, its reality if not its concept, has become a kind of malignant paradox if not a sinister conundrum. It is often linked to violence and the terror of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Nonetheless, the U.N. and the interstate system of nation-states still function as seemingly viable institutions of everyday life.1 How do we explain these seemingly paradoxical trends?
Epifanio San Juan Jr.
Yoav Peled and Doron Navot
The current state of the debate over Israeli democracy and the state of Israeli democracy itself are analyzed through the citizenship status of Israel's Palestinian citizens. The two main theoretical models featured in this debate—Smooha's "ethnic democracy" and Yiftachel's "ethnocracy"—are discussed, focusing on the 'framework decisions' that inform their arguments. After demonstrating that the question of Israeli democracy should be viewed dynamically and historically, it will be clear that the Israeli state has been evolving from non-democratic ethnocracy, though ethnic democracy, toward non-democratic majoritarianism. For each one of these phases, prior to October 2000, we analyze a seminal decision of the Supreme Court that highlighted the citizenship status of the Palestinian citizens during that phase. For the period since October 2000, we analyze the Or Commission report and its reception by the government to argue that Israel may be on its way to becoming a non-democratic majoritarian state.
Nonrecording states between legibility and looking away
Barak Kalir and Willem van Schendel
In this theme section we explore why and when states knowingly refrain from recording people and their activities. States are not simply in pursuit of enhanced “legibility”; at times they also need to be able to “look away.” In explaining strategies of nonrecording, our focus is on how subjects negotiate with state recording agencies, how nonrecording relieves state agents from the burden of accountability, how the discretionary power of individual state agents affects (non)recording in unanticipated ways, and how states may project an illusion of vigorous recording internationally while actually engaging in deliberate nonrecording. Presenting case studies from China, Greece, the Netherlands, India, and Romania, we show that strategies of nonrecording are flexible, selective, and aimed at certain populations—and that both citizens and noncitizens can be singled out for nonrecording or derecording. In analyzing this state-produced social oblivion, divergences between national and local levels are of crucial significance.
On 22 October 2003, Michael Khodorkovsky, the richest man in Russia and the director of Yukos, one of the largest Russian companies, was arrested at gunpoint in Novosibirsk airport and transferred to Moscow. A few months earlier, one of his deputies, Platon Lebedev, had been arrested on 3 July 2003. In the months that followed the arrest of Lebedev, the general prosecutor raided the offices of Yukos and Menatep, a major shareholder of Yukos. On 17 October 2003, Vasily Shakhnovsky, a Yukos shareholder, was detained for tax evasion. Another major shareholder, Leonid Nevzlin, was accused of conspiracy to commit murder and fled to Israel. One of Yukos’s security guards was also accused as a culprit in this conspiracy and was imprisoned. The general prosecutor subjected the company to a series of raids and restrictions that led to the decline of the value of its shares and brought it to the verge of bankruptcy by the middle of August 2004. Officially, all of these actions occurred because of Yukos’s illegal economic dealings and tax frauds, but the real reasons were that Khodorkovsky had dared to criticize publicly the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin; that he had funded rival political parties; and that he had also toyed with the idea of entering politics himself and becoming a presidential candidate. Since the conflict between Yukos and the state is a good illustration of the contradictory relation between state and capital in Russia, let me give a brief description of Yukos’s history.
A. Hadi Alshawi and Andrew Gardner
This article examines the resurgence of tribalism as a sociological component of contemporary Qatari society. Utilising an ethnographic, mixed-methods design, the article begins with a survey of the substantial scholarship concerning tribes in Arabia. That scholarship provides ideas and understandings that only partially explain the vitality of contemporary tribalism. The article then demonstrates tribalism's ongoing social importance by analysing data from a quantitative survey of 800 Qatari citizens. The article concludes with the ethnographically situated contention that tribalism functions as a mechanism for asserting social power in the contemporary Qatari state, and is therefore an emblematic component of Qatari citizenship.
The Fight against Marriages of Convenience in Brussels
Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between January 2012 and June 2013 in eight civil registry offices in Brussels, this article explores how assumptions about intimacy intersect with the moral standards of bureaucrats evaluating the authenticity of conjugal life in order to prevent 'marriages of convenience'. From the 'intimate conviction' of the agents of the state to the co-production of intimate narratives, this article tries to understand the intrusion of states in contemporary intimacies. I look at how the bureaucratic application of a civilizational ideology affects the subjectivities of those engaging in partnerships across two different nationalities (bi-national couples) – and blurs an historic distinction between what is public and what is private.
Few dispute the notion that the rapid development of industrialising economies in Asia and Latin America, new information technologies, liberalisation of trade, and global financial markets have contributed to the emergence of a truly global economy in the past ten years. Neither do they dispute that national economies almost everywhere in the world have become increasingly less ‘national’. Most countries’ foreign trade has increased, and in many, foreign investment and payment on foreign debt have become more prevalent than in the past. Labour movements also appear to be increasing, especially the movement of highly skilled labour. But does this mean that nation-states have decreased influence over the definition of economic and social life? Does globalisation imply the demise of the nation-state?
From a French perspective, the relationship between the state and religion in the United States may seem paradoxical. On the one hand, the American nation was the first one to have established, by constitutional means, a separation between religious bodies and the political realm. On the other hand, religious and political spheres in the US still seem to overlap to some extent. While French approaches tend to regard US laïcité as uncertain and incomplete, this article discusses whether laïcité is in the US incomplete or aware of tensions to be lessened among religious, political and social forces. I focus on legal regulation and consider the notion of accommodation as a particular form of legal laïcité.
The Lenoir-Durkheim Lecture Notes on L'enseignement de la morale
William Watts Miller
These are lectures on morality, attributed to Durkheim by Raymond Lenoir and given to Steven Lukes, who reproduced them in his doctoral thesis on Durkheim. They are published, here, together and in full for the first time. The first group of lectures covers the family, as well as general issues in morality and moral education. The second group of lectures, on civic ethics, covers citizenship, democracy, the state, occupational groups, law, and the idea of la patrie. The lectures conclude with a familiar discussion of discipline, and a more original discussion of duties to oneself. The editorial introduction to the lectures explains the circumstances in which they came to light, and discusses issues of authenticity but also of the general role, in Durkheimian studies, of texts variously attributed to Durkheim or based on notes by his students.
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.