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Alpa Shah and Sara Shneiderman

This is the introduction to a special section of Focaal that includes seven articles on the anthropology of affirmative action in South Asia. The section promotes the sustained, critical ethnographic analysis of affirmative action measures adopted to combat historical inequalities around the world. Turning our attention to the social field of affirmative action opens up new fronts in the anthropological effort to understand the state by carefully engaging the relationship between the formation and effects of policies for differentiated citizenship. We explore this relationship in the historical and contemporary context of South Asia, notably India and Nepal. We argue that affirmative action policies always transform society, but not always as expected. The relationship between political and socioeconomic inequality can be contradictory. Socioeconomic inequalities may persist or be refigured in new terms, as policies of affirmative action and their experiential effects are intimately linked to broader processes of economic liberalization and political transformation.

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Introduction

Ethnographic Engagement with Bureaucratic Violence

Erin R. Eldridge and Amanda J. Reinke

Journal of Anthropology 33 ( 1 ): 18 – 34 . 10.3167/ca.2015.330103 Bernstein , Anya , and Elizabeth Mertz . 2011 . “ Introduction: Bureaucracy—Ethnography of the State in Everyday Life. ” PoLAR 34 ( 1 ): 6 – 10 . https://doi.org./10.1111/j

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From the “state-idea” to “politically organized subjection”

Revisiting Abrams in times of crisis in Turkey and EU-Europe

Katharina Bodirsky

to go beyond the everyday interactions of people with state bureaucracy that have informed many ethnographies of the state. Anthropology need not limit itself to a study of those dimensions of state practice that are visible to participant observation

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Amanda J. Reinke

( Durham, NC : Duke University Press ). 10.1515/9780822377191 Bernstein , A. and E. Mertz ( 2011 ), ‘ Bureaucracy: Ethnography of the state in everyday life ’, PoLAR 34 , no. 1 : 6 – 10 , https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1555-2934.2011.01135.x . 10

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Nonrecording the “European refugee crisis” in Greece

Navigating through irregular bureaucracy

Katerina Rozakou

other ethnographies of the state, I argue that irregularity, like illegibility ( Das 2004 ) and illegality ( Heyman and Smart 1999 ; Jusionyte 2015 ; Van Schendel and Abraham 2005 ), is in fact a formative element of the state “as a theoretical and

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To Smile and Not to Smile

Mythic Gesture at the Russia-China Border

Caroline Humphrey

some more ethnography of the state presence at the Zabaikal’sk–Manzhouli crossing before returning to Peshkov’s analysis. In 2004, reacting to complaints of rudeness from passengers, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) ordered border guards to

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Erin R. Eldridge

://www.aclu.org/cases/green-group-holdings-v-schaeffer-defense-environmental-protesters-against-defamation-lawsuit?redirect=locals-v-landfill . Bernstein , Anya , and Elizabeth Mertz . 2011 . “ Introduction: Bureaucracy—Ethnography of the State in Everyday Life. ” PoLAR 34 ( 1 ): 6 – 10 . https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1555-2934.2011.01135.x . 10.1111/j.1555-2934.2011.01135.x Bourgois

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The Many Faces of the State

Living in Peace and Conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

Nasir Uddin and Eva Gerharz

manifested in its various forms at the margins, where people construct notions of “state” and reproduce a sense of “stateness” amid their everyday interactions with state institutions. Foundations of the Ethnography of the State In classical anthropology