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Karin M. Gustafsson and Rolf Lidskog

For many countries, the IUCN Red List of threatened species is a central instrument in their work to counteract loss of biodiversity. This article analyzes the development of the Red List categories and criteria, how these categories and criteria are used in the construction of global, national, and regional red lists, and how the red lists are employed in policy work. A central finding of the article is that this mix of actors implies many different forms of boundary work. This article also finds that the Red List functions as a portable representation, that is, a context-independent instrument to represent nature. A third finding is that the Red List functions as a link between experts and policy makers. Thus, the Red List is best understood as a boundary object and hybrid practice where the credibility of scientific assessment and a specific policy is mutually strengthened.

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Tatjana Thelen, Andre Thiemann and Duška Roth

In this article, we analyze processes of kinning within state-initiated programs of elder care in Serbia in order to explore how images of the state as an entity are cast as distinct from the domain of the family. We present data from the fieldwork we conducted in two settlements, in northern and central Serbia respectively. Contrary to the findings of many anthropological studies of the state, state actors in these cases surpass the expectations of citizens. Nevertheless, within complex processes of kinning between state-paid care workers and their clients, dominant images of an absent state as well as state-kinship boundaries are (re)produced. Placing this boundary work within the evolving relations at the center of the analysis underlines the merits of rethinking the interconnections between kinship and the state with a relational focus.

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Introduction to Stategraphy

Toward a Relational Anthropology of the State

Tatjana Thelen, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann

In the introduction to this special issue, we discuss recent trends in anthropological research on and in theorizing the state. We show how these have given rise to an analytical gap between state images, on the one hand, and practices, on the other. Based on this analysis, we propose a relational approach that we call 'stategraphy' as a way to tie together state practices and representations. This ethnographically grounded approach focuses on relational modalities, boundary work, and forms of embeddedness of actors as constitutive factors. These avenues of analyses enable a nuanced understanding and comparative investigation of change and continuity as well as of mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion.