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.
Documents, Infrastructure and Political Experimentation in Highland Peru
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.
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.
Caritas Luxembourg and Norry Schneider
The first version of the declaration (“Outcome Document”) for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or ”Rio+20”), the “Zero Draft”, was released by the UNCSD Secretariat in January 2012. The 19-page document is based on a compilation of inputs received from United Nations (UN) member States and other stakeholders, and it outlines a vision for building a sustainable world. This piece is part of a Caritas Luxembourg position paper sent early February 2012 to the Ministry for sustainable development and infrastructure of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Ministère du Développement Durable et des Infrastructures, or MDDI), in order to inform Luxembourgish government’s position on sustainable development prior to the Rio+20 conference.
Documenting Second-generation Iranian Americans in Los Angeles
In 2009–2010 I collaborated with four Iranian documentary photographers to document everyday lives of the second-generation Iranian-American community in Los Angeles (LA). This article offers an overview of that project and exhibition, along with a selection of images, and presents interview data that suggests several impacts of place and of representations of Iranians on second generation Iranian-American identity. Youth experiences of geopolitical, community and familial struggles have motivated many in this generation to re-mould the image of ‘LA Persians’ by claiming space in diaspora for themselves and their children, the growing third generation.
Israeli Arabs' "future vision" documents are an ethical-political manifesto, contextualized in academic discourse and informed by socio-historical parallels. Hence, this article examines their political ethics in a comparative perspective, by referencing the case of Israeli Arabs along with two other distinct intra-state conflicts: the strife between Anglophones and Francophones in Canada and the struggle between Macedonians and Albanians in Macedonia. These cases illuminate two main ethical-political alternatives to the present pattern of relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Although the Canadian case indicates a renunciation of ethno-nationalism in favor of civic and linguistic patriotism, the Macedonian case presents an attempt to reconcile ethno-national affiliation with democratic principles. Projecting the ethical discussion of the Canadian and Macedonian cases onto Israel, I contend that normative acceptance of the mutual and dual right of self-determination, regarding both the individual's collective identity and the collective's polity, is a precondition for reconciliation between Jews and Arabs.
An Impact Case Study of Anthropological Collaboration in Tobacco Control
Andrew Russell and Sue Lewis
In this article we consider the 'impact case study' (ICS) as a specific kind of document, one which, as part of the U.K.'s Research Excellence Framework (REF), enforces a common template for the description and measurement of the social and economic effects of research in U.K. higher education. We track the development of an ICS describing anthropological research in tobacco control which, after many iterations, was not submitted as part of the REF. We ask 'what is impact?' in cases where anthropological research is based on principles of collaboration and serendipity rather than the mechanistic 'research > translation > impact > measurement' model which an ICS is expected to follow. What is included and what excluded by the strictures of such a model? We are generally supportive of the impact agenda, feeling that university resources and activities have a vital role to play in progressive social change. However, the way 'impact' is recorded, appraised and measured in an ICS only captures a small proportion of the effects of anthropological research, and encourages particular forms of public engagement while discounting others.
Alexander D. King
This project is titled “Koryak Ethnopoetics: Stories from Herders and Maritime Villagers” and emerges from my long interest in oral narratives in Koryak. It is funded by a grant from the Endangered Language Documentation Project (ELDP).1 The general goal of the project is to document spoken Koryak, especially oral narratives, primarily by speakers of less studied dialects. Koryak varies quite a bit from one dialect to another, and this project will provide a better set of linguistic data for Koryak. In my previous fieldwork, I found that many people wanted me to share the realities of their traditions, their stories, their lives with the wider world. More Koryaks are concerned about having their name spelled correctly in my publications than being anonymous. This documentation project is ultimately about addressing the inequalities of voice as discussed by Dell Hymes (1996). I have found it rare that my academic research makes a real difference in people’s lives. However, that is exactly the feeling I got when talking to Koryaks about our documentation project in northern Kamchatka; it is work that makes a difference for many people in Kamchatka. Indigenous Kamchatkans face great struggles to have their voices heard but soon there will be an open and easily accessible archive of nearly 200 hours of what they want to say. The majority of participants we recorded had the goal of putting their native born language on record. They wanted their language, the language that their grandchildren don’t understand, recorded so that someone, anyone could hear it even after their death. Most people we approached had a clear sense of legacy. A few treasured the opportunity to speak with with my research partner, who was an excellent conversational partner in Koryak and is honestly interested in what the elder had to say.