distinct and separate information. The result is a massive amount of archival information that remains relatively poorly curated. I find it challenging to find ‘that document’ I need at any given time; searching through paper and digital files is a daily
Documents, Infrastructure and Political Experimentation in Highland Peru
This article tracks the political effects of documents produced in relation to a public infrastructure project in the Peruvian Andes. By contrast with the recent focus on bureaucratic documents as aesthetic artefacts and instances of institutional form, I attend to the political processes enacted through project papers, exploring how their relational, material, affective and referential dimensions opened up spaces of political experimentation. In particular, I suggest that the power of documents to mediate the regulatory ambiguities incurred by Peru's ongoing decentralization lies partly in their capacity to espouse normative formality whilst always hinting at the possibility of its undoing.
The question in this article is how citizenship is reinvented and recontextualized in a newly founded European Union after the launching of Union Citizenship. What kind of conceptions of citizenship are produced in this new and evolving organization? The research material consists of documents presented by EU organs from 1994 to 2007 concerning eight EU programs on citizenship and culture. I will analyze conceptual similarities (continuities) and differences (discontinuities) between these documents and previous conceptualizations in various contexts, including citizenship discussions in the history of integration since the 1970s as well as theories of democracy and nation-states. Based on the analysis of participation, rights, and identity as central dimensions of citizenship, I will discuss the relationship of Union Citizenship to democracy and nationality.
In 2006-2007, several Arab nongovernmental organizations in Israel, led by a group of politicians and intellectuals, published future vision documents that summed up the needs, aspirations, hopes, and desires of Arab society in Israel. Despite the fact that the documents did not introduce any new ideas that were not on the Israeli political stage already, this article argues that the fact that the documents were a result of collective effort shows the deep changes that have been taking place among Arab society in general and its leadership in particular. The documents mark the rising tide of frustration and self-confidence, and as a result of oppositional consciousness among leaders and intellectuals of Arab society in Israel. The documents seek to redefine the relationship of Arab society with the Israeli state, demanding the transformation of Israel from an ethnic to a democratic state and calling the Jewish majority for a dialogue. The fact that several documents have emerged is a clear indication that the internal differences within Arab society are still stronger than the uniting forces within it.
The Documentation of Reality in Rural Paraguay
This article is an ethnographic account of the politics of transparency in Paraguay that focuses on the circulation of a particular binder full of photocopies from the land registry during Paraguay’s embattled “transition to democracy.” The concept of transparency posits a representational relationship between documents and reality – i.e. governments are transparent to the extent that they generate faithful and accessible documentary representations of their activities. The article suggests that the difficulty of creating a critical analysis of transparency has less to do with representations than with contention over what counts as reality. The Paraguayan case suggests that we might benefit from rethinking transparency through the logic of populism, in which reality is itself created in the relationship between leaders and their followers.
Examining the regulatory effects of documentary practices in a refugee settlement
Documents play an important role in the lives of refugees. However, little is known about the extent to which documents regulate the everyday lives of refugees and the anxieties of obtaining relevant paperwork for refugees seeking resettlement in the Global North. Although their lives are regulated by paperwork, refugees also use documents strategically to legitimise various claims and entitlements. This article shows how refugees interface with the administrative processes that seek to regulate their stay. Therefore, documentary practices become important tools through which processes and objectives of migration governance can be examined. This article seeks to contribute further insights on how the deployment of documents entrenches discourses of vulnerability, the role that paper regimes play in (re)producing processes of exclusion through administrative processes in humanitarian aid contexts and the revelations of documentary practices or paper regimes about those who govern and those who are governed by these practices.
Ivan Poliakov’s Collection, 1876
Ekaterina B. Tolmacheva
visual documentation of conventional everyday life. Following this, photography became widely used to document the outside world and from the 1880s on, it became impossible to find a significant expedition taking place without photographic coverage
Census, Health Laws and Inconsistently Modern Subjects in Early Colonial Vanuatu
In this article, I discuss two roles of documents in the creation and enforcement of public health laws in early colonial Vanuatu and their implication in colonial attempts to transform ni-Vanuatu societies and subjectivities. Colonial officials of the British-French Condominium based their projects on their admittedly partial knowledge in reports generated by experts studying depopulation. This knowledge, I argue, produced a ‘population’ by categorizing people according to their relationship with a reified notion of culture. The Condominium enforced health laws by sending letters to people categorized as Christian who would, the Condominium hoped, adhere to the regulations as self governing subjects. Officials would engage in persuasive conversations when they enforced the regulations in ‘bush’ villages. I conclude by reflecting on ni- Vanuatu knowledge of well-being and illness that could not be represented or documented and its centrality for subjectivities that might elude, if not subvert, the modern subject presumed by colonial strategies of governance.
Anthropology, bureaucracy and paperwork
This postface links the contributions to this special issue to wider concerns in the anthropology of bureaucracy and the history of this disciplinary subfield. Anthropologists focus on documentary practices: how documents are produced, how they are being used (not always in the sense originally given to them by the producers), how they might be ‘brokered’ and how they are being contested – mostly by the production of other documents. The postface points to the epistemological implications of an anthropology of bureaucracy, under the term of ‘complicit positioning’, and argues for acknowledging the double face of bureaucracy and paperwork, as a form of domination and oppression, as well as of protection and liberation, and all the ambivalences this dialectic entails.
Migration, documents and bureaucracy
Stories of those who were victims of the Windrush scandal are characterised by tales of long-lost documents and urgent quests to procure paperwork – maternity certificates, payslips, dental records, school reports – that would attest to a lifetime spent in the United Kingdom. The so-called Windrush generation came to need this paperwork because, although unbeknown to most, the 1971 Immigration Act demanded that from 1973, all migrants must document their ‘legal’ presence in the UK. It was, however, only from 2014 – because of changes in legislation – that now retirement-age Commonwealth citizens, most of whom had migrated to the United Kingdom as children, found themselves facing deportation back to countries that many had not visited for decades (for a historical account of the legislation and politics that led to the Windrush scandal, see Olusoga 2019). The 2014 Immigration Act deleted a key clause of the 1999 legislation that had provided long-standing Commonwealth residents with protection from enforced removal (Taylor 2018). Some of those affected by this updated legislation report that they believed themselves to be legitimate citizens of the British state and therefore did not need to prove their right to be resident through such documentation (for case studies, see Gentleman 2019). In this case, as well as in common-sense thought more generally, documents and paperwork are understood to hold the ‘truth’. Uncover it and their holder’s rightful status will be triumphantly revealed. As such, documents are imagined to act as unambiguous mechanisms of inclusion, their absence therefore denoting the exact opposite.