anthropological study of boundaries, I review major approaches to boundary plants in the social sciences, as well as recent literature on space, place, and agency. Finally, I offer three short case studies from recent fieldwork showing how and why these
Max Planck Directors as Fichtean Subjects
One of the core assumptions in agency theory has been that agency is a primordial attribute of persons: an agent is 'the origin of causal events'. However, rather than situating agency at the origin, this article argues that we should a end to where agency, within a given context, itself originates. In Germany's Max Planck Society the departmental heads – so-called 'directors' – possess a significant degree of 'agency' in realizing their personal will. Yet they are not its authors. On the contrary their agency is a secondary product of the philosophies of German Idealism, which eulogize the subjectivity of a heroic intellectual. In this analysis, the agency of the directors is not a precondition of their humanity, but the off spring of a specific cultural inheritance which frames the organization's intramural life. Organizational theorists should thus pay close attention to the geo-cultural location of their object before drawing conclusions about agency.
This article discusses how agency is emergent from the asymmetrical power interactions of multiple social actors and organizations. Agency, contingent and relational, is creative even when interpreted by people as unsuccessful. I employ ethnographic research from within a local authority sustainability team who were threatened with redundancy because of funding cuts imposed during the implementation of British Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society project. In order to manage their situation, possible futures had to be re-imagined and appropriately contained through processes of self-assessment and self-management. The ability to enable self-directing action was often evident but was frequently interpreted by people as unsuccessful. This stemmed from misrecognition, scarcity and the lack of capacity to bring about full and substantial changes. Both the sustainability team and their work emerge from this process reduced and reformed through the competing tensions of systems of political governance and technologies of the self.
Jon Harald Sande Lie
Through its post-structural critique of development, post-development provides a fundamental dismissal of institutional development. Drawing on the work of Foucault, post-development portrays development as a monolithic and hegemonic discourse that constructs rather than solves the problems it purports to address. Yet post-development itself becomes guilty of creating an analysis that loses sight of individuals and agency, being fundamental to its development critique. This article discusses the discourse-agency nexus in light of the post-development context with specific reference to the grand structure-actor conundrum of social theory, and asks whether an actor perspective is compatible with discourse analysis and what—if anything—should be given primacy. It aims to provide insight into social theory and post-development comparatively and, furthermore, to put these in context, with Foucault's work being pivotal to the seminal post-development approach.
Moving beyond Carceral Logics
This article – based on fieldwork conducted in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil – examines how those people most affected by carceral expansion pursue safety in an everyday marked by existential threat. Through a focus on a neglected sector of this population, namely adult women, I show how carceral encounters specifically – and informal, illegal and not-yet-(il)legal exchanges more generally – intersect with familial logics and imperatives to engender a capacity for action that I call ‘extralegal agency’. Extralegal agency is central to a practice of safety that represents an alternative to the dominant model of carceral security. An extralegal agency approach to analysing interconnected prison/urban fields, which decentres masculinized criminal organizations and resists romanticizing the rule of law, enables a disruption of dominant discourses of and about the carceral state.
Valerie R. Friesen
In many parts of the developing world, sport is a non-traditional activity for girls, one which is being used increasingly by development organizations for the empowerment of girls and women. However, very little research has been done on the complex subjective perceptions and understandings of the participants themselves. The girls in this study were participants in an after-school program in Windhoek, Namibia, which combines academics and sport. I used discourse analysis to highlight issues of agency, power, and gender that emerge from their reflections on their sport participation. Girls' conversations often revealed acceptance and normalization of dominant gender norms but also a growing critical consciousness, and demonstrated the numerous ways girls resist, negotiate and engage with these discourses through their own perceptions of power, agency, and hope.
Crafting a ‘Philosophy of Praxis’ into a ‘Community of Resistance’
–] are loathed by administrators and governments’ ( McKenna 2002 ). As I wrote then: Health and environmental agencies, in particular, are dominated by a regulatory approach, focusing on one incident, one disease or one type of intervention. This
Calls for Local Agency and Good Fieldwork in Development Encounters
process that is more negotiated and contested (even while still often being parasitic or exploitative [ De Vries 2007 , cited in Mosse 2013: 231 ]). Development is produced through existing categories, which it then transforms, and local agency plays its
Roger Sansi and Luis Nicolau Parés
The debates on identity politics and the invention of tradition led the study of Afro-Brazilian religions to a certain impasse in the 1990s. However, in the last several years, the field has been totally renewed, although in different directions. In this article we will consider some of these new trends, from a wider historical engagement with the Atlantic world, through the religious field and the public sphere, to new approaches to spirit possession and cosmology. Our objective is to assess the extent to which these new debates have managed to overcome this impasse.
The Role of Bodily Integrity
Mar Cabezas and Gottfried Schweiger
reasons for this. First, bodily integrity is itself a multidimensional functioning and capability; it encompasses physical and mental health, positive self-relationships, and agency. In other words, only when a girl is sufficiently healthy, has agency, and