on the possibility of pain in order to reclaim political agency, which necessarily extends from making obligations and commitments to one another. It is only through such commitments that we can most readily bring about new worlds as a community
Reclaiming Political Agency through the Exercise of Courage
Grant M. Sharratt and Erik Wisniewski
Connective Agency and the Aesthetics of the Egyptian Revolution
glorify the first eighteen days in Tahrir Square, 25 January to 11 February 2011. Rather, what I seek here is a way, and a language, with which to understand the profound fact unmistakably perceived by all: the awakened claim to political agency by the
Theoretical Debates on Agency
Sunday Paul Chinazo Onwuegbuchulam and Khondlo Mtshali
such cases, we can speak of the relationship between state and social forces as mutually empowering. But in other instances, the engagement between the state and social forces is a struggle for agency, for the ultimate autonomy to take initiatives and
Moving beyond Carceral Logics
she was incarcerated). This domestic stronghold, from which she arranges a safe(r) familial future, is a product of extralegal agency, a neglected dimension of Bahian low-income urban sociality. Scholars concerned with ‘territorial stigmatization
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
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
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.
Recognizing Agency in the Limits of the Rational Subject
What is the connection between cognitive abilities, agency and moral worth? Does a cognitive impairment constrict one’s capacity to act, and thus one’s chances of making a valuable contribution to the lives of others? Philosopher Peter Singer offers
Agency and Personhood in the Argentine Supreme Court
A common assumption in Western legal cultures is that judicial law-making is materialised in practices that resemble the operation of a professional bureaucracy, practices that are also central to the construction of knowledge in other systems, such as accounting, audit, science, and even ethnography (Dauber 1995; Strathern 2000; Riles 2000, 2004, 2006; Maurer 2002; Yngvesson and Coutin 2006). This argument situates the judiciary as a formalistic organization that builds its ambition of universality on the procurement and dissemination of knowledge on a rational basis. Drawing on ethnographic research in the Argentine Supreme Court, this paper seeks to unpack this assumption through a detailed look at how the figures of legal bureaucrats, in particular law clerks, become visible through the documentary practices they perform within the judicial apparatus. As these practices unfold, they render visible these subjects in different forms, though not always accessible to outsiders. Persons are displayed through a bureaucratic circuit of files that simultaneously furthers and denies human agency while reinforcing the division of labour within the institution. This dynamic, I argue, can be understood in light of Marilyn Strathern’s (1988) insights about the forms of objectification and personification that operate in two “ethnographically conceived” social domains (Pottage 2001:113): a Euro-American commodity-driven economy, and Melanesia’s economy based on gift-exchange.
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.