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The Aporia of Power

Crisis and the Emergence of the Corporate State

Bruce Kapferer

The argument focuses on the corporate state as an increasingly significant political assemblage that has enabled new configurations of power with related social effects. Here the discussion proceeds from Karl Polanyi's thesis in The Great Transformation. A critical idea that Polanyi pursued related to the state production of economism and individualism, which prepared the ground for the expansion of capital in its globalizing form. The essay develops this idea, indicating that the nationalist capitalism of the state led to a radical change in the political and social orders of states, gradually giving rise to the corporate state assemblage. The emphasis here is on the corporate state as a socio-political order that places radically distinct structural dynamics into impossible conjunction, leading to progressively disastrous social effects concerning poverty and the emergence of new configurations in which war and violence take specific shapes.

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Perspectives from the Ground

Colonial Bureaucratic Violence, Identity, and Transitional Justice in Canada

Jaymelee J. Kim

, identity-related variables emerged. To discuss these, I first question the roles of identity and representation in the bureaucratic process to discuss who represented transitional justice and what identity transitional justice assumes. Bureaucracy and

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Amanda J. Reinke

ethos of reception by legal actors, including judges who oversee juvenile cases. However, other practitioners are concerned that bureaucratic processes focused on standardizing and professionalizing practice will inhibit their ability to meet client

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Erin R. Eldridge

Abstract

Coal ash, the waste generated at coal-burning power plants, is one of the largest waste streams in the United States, and it contains a range of contaminants, including arsenic and mercury. Disasters at coal ash waste sites in recent years have led to increased public scrutiny of coal ash in communities and have sparked policy debates, lawsuits, and complaints throughout the country. With emphasis on federal and state coal ash policies since the 1970s, this article highlights the synthesis of government and corporate power in coal ash politics, and the bureaucratic processes affecting communities near coal ash sites. Based on ethnographic research following the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash disaster, as well as preliminary research on the “social life” of coal ash in North Carolina, this article specifically offers ethnographic insight into the lived experiences of social and ecological violence created, perpetuated, and normalized through bureaucratic processes.

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Christiaan Beyers

In the context of transitional justice, how does the reinvented state come to be assumed as a social fact? South African land restitution interpellates victims of apartheid- and colonial-era forced removals as claimants, moral and legal subjects of a virtuous 'new' state. In the emotional narratives of loss and suffering called forth in land claim forms, the state is addressed as a subject capable of moral engagement. Claim forms also 'capture' affects related to the event of forced removals as an unstable political resource. However, within an ultimately legal and bureaucratic process, the desire for recognition is typically not reciprocated. Moreover, material settlements are indefinitely delayed due to political and institutional complications. The resulting disillusionment is counterweighed by persistent aspirations for state redress.

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Governing through Uncertainty

Experiences of Being a Refugee in Turkey as a Country for Temporary Asylum

Kristen Sarah Biehl

This article addresses the question of how to theorize the relation between uncertainty and governmentality with regard to displacement and its consequences. It explores the experiences of asylum seekers in Turkey and the bureaucratic processes of refugee status determination, local dispersal, and third country resettlement, illustrating two main points throughout. First, 'protracted uncertainty', characterized by indefinite waiting, limited knowledge, and unpredictable legal status, is a central element of the experience of being an asylum seeker in Turkey. Second, this uncertainty serves to demobilize, contain, and criminalize asylum seekers through the production of protracted uncertainty, which in turn is normalized as a necessity of bureaucracy and/or security. The article invites readers to question the governmentalities of asylum and border regimes that not only discipline refugees' everyday movements but also determine the uncertainty of 'refugeeness'.

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Paperwork performances

Legitimating state violence in the Swedish deportation regime

Lisa Marie Borrelli and Annika Lindberg

Deportation regimes mobilise coercive state powers, but also entail extensive paperwork, the latter of which remains underexplored in deportation studies. Building on ethnographic fieldwork in border police units and a migration-related detention centre in Sweden, this article explores how bureaucratic practices of detecting, detaining and ultimately deporting people whose presence has been illegalised are enforced and legitimated through the use of paperwork. Paperwork, we argue, becomes the ‘signature of the state’ that enables state agencies to assert themselves as ‘rational’ actors, even when their own practices are ridden by dilemmas, inconsistency and sometimes arbitrariness. We show how the same documents that are meant to ensure fairness and accountability in bureaucratic processes may render state actions even more unreadable, and further serve to rationalise and legitimise intrusive, violent and discriminatory state actions. The article thus highlights the importance of considering the often-tedious paperwork as essential to the operation of coercive state powers, such as the detainment and deportation of illegalised persons.

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Niklas Hultin

This article examines the voter registration card and the social context of voter registrations in the Gambia, West Africa. Drawing on recent ethnographies of documents and using data on worries over foreigners’ efforts to fraudulently obtain voter registration cards, a public information campaign on the Gambian electoral process, international legal material on the Gambian democracy, and observations at voter registration stations, the article argues that the voter registration card delineates not only a national subject but also a generic political subject. This subject is characterized by a commitment to a bureaucratic process and an appreciation of the card as an official identification document inseparable from the person it identifies. The article also considers how the voter registration process allows Gambians to compare their experiences to citizens of other countries. In a political context of an authoritarian government and a weak rule of law, this comparison offers an ideal of a modern democratic state that both enables criticism of the Gambia’s present situation and confirms the centrality of a generic political subject to the realization of that ideal.

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Larisa Carranza

continuously place them in and out of legal standing within the Italian state. Rules, Paper, Status moves away from popular imaginings of border control to examine how immigration policies work ‘on the ground’ for migrants who navigate bureaucratic processes

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Introduction

Ethnographic Engagement with Bureaucratic Violence

Erin R. Eldridge and Amanda J. Reinke

violence by the oppressed as normative. Thus, the administration of decisions, care, and control through bureaucratic processes simultaneously affects our physical, social, and mental-emotional well-being. The authors in this section thus reveal the