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Files Circulation and the Forms of Legal Experts

Agency and Personhood in the Argentine Supreme Court

Leticia Barrera

A common assumption in Western legal cultures is that judicial law-making is materialised in practices that resemble the operation of a professional bureaucracy, practices that are also central to the construction of knowledge in other systems, such as accounting, audit, science, and even ethnography (Dauber 1995; Strathern 2000; Riles 2000, 2004, 2006; Maurer 2002; Yngvesson and Coutin 2006). This argument situates the judiciary as a formalistic organization that builds its ambition of universality on the procurement and dissemination of knowledge on a rational basis. Drawing on ethnographic research in the Argentine Supreme Court, this paper seeks to unpack this assumption through a detailed look at how the figures of legal bureaucrats, in particular law clerks, become visible through the documentary practices they perform within the judicial apparatus. As these practices unfold, they render visible these subjects in different forms, though not always accessible to outsiders. Persons are displayed through a bureaucratic circuit of files that simultaneously furthers and denies human agency while reinforcing the division of labour within the institution. This dynamic, I argue, can be understood in light of Marilyn Strathern’s (1988) insights about the forms of objectification and personification that operate in two “ethnographically conceived” social domains (Pottage 2001:113): a Euro-American commodity-driven economy, and Melanesia’s economy based on gift-exchange.

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Gary Bruce

In order to situate the current debate on whether the Federal Commission for the Files of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (the Stasi Archive) should cease to be an autonomous institution in the larger context, this article traces the history of the Stasi Archive and of the Stasi Files Law since 1989. Key to understanding the Stasi Archive and access to its files is the 1989 revolution which saw demonstrators demand access to information gathered by the secret police. Although the research quasimonopoly that the Stasi Archive enjoys would be ended by integration into the federal archives, file access for Stasi victims-the raison d'être of the archive-would be jeopardized. Calls for the dismantling of the Stasi archive are, therefore, premature. Some criticism can be directed at the vetting and trial process in East Germany since 1989, but it is important to remember that the Stasi Archive acted only in a support capacity for those activities.

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Public Health in Eastern Europe

Visible Modernization and Elusive Gender Transformation

Evguenia Davidova

Heike Karge, Friederike Kind-Kovacs, and Sara Bernasconi, eds., From the Midwife's Bag to the Patient's File: Public Health in Eastern Europe , Budapest: Central European University Press, 2017, vii–xix, 349 pp., $70.00/€62.00 (hardback

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Jennifer Craig-Norton

of rescue and salvation. Several years ago, my own research on the Kindertransport was transformed by the chance discovery of case files documenting the lives of over 100 children who had been brought to Britain by an obscure relief organization, the

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Amanda J. Reinke

these negotiations occur in person during conflict resolution and through the interactions of formal and informal stakeholders, negotiations of the substantive and procedural meanings of justice occur primarily on paper. Memoranda of understanding, files

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Lee Komito

The analysis of electronic versus paper documents, especially in the context of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), has often focused on affordances, issues of design and implementation, and work practices. Issues of culture are often understated in such studies. Yet, like any object of material culture, the use of paper files, as well as an aversion to electronic information sharing, is conditioned by the cultural and political background of a society. This article will suggest that the persistence of paper files in a section of the Irish civil service during the 1990s had much to do with issues of accountability and a cult of expertise, in which papers files, as material objects, were deployed on behalf of claims of expertise and power. This intertwining of power, politics and information is a feature of Irish society, and the discourse of expertise and power is a theme that permeates many aspects of Irish culture.

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Constructing 'unteachability' through menacing warnings

The coupling of welfare benefits and migration control in Switzerland

Luca Pfirter

This article scrutinises case files concerning the revocation of stay permits in Switzerland due to the receipt of social assistance. Through in-depth exploration of case files and Federal Supreme Court judgements, it provides insights into the increasing coupling of migration control and welfare instruments. The article does so by investigating one specific type of paperwork: ‘menaces of warnings of the revocation order due to the dependency on social assistance’. The article argues bureaucratic practices and the paperwork they produce must be investigated for their effects on foreign nationals and for the (re)production of politics of belonging and the ‘anti-citizen’. By individualising the reason for receiving social assistance, the analysed paperwork simultaneously aims at disciplining recipients of social assistance and legitimises exclusion by constructing ‘unteachability’ through ‘unsuccessful’ self-disciplining.

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Raluca Maria Popa

Source discussed: Ana Pauker’s 11 February 1946 report at the Conference of the core group of women activists (Consfătuirea activului de bază feminin) regarding the political situation, the International Congress of Women in Paris, and the founding of the Women’s Democratic Federation of Romania (nine pages), Arhivele Naţionale Centrale ale României (National Central Archives of Romania), Fond Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party, Chancellery volume I, file 13/1946, pp. 1–9.

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Khul‘ Divorce in Egypt

How Family Courts Are Providing a ‘Dialogue’ between Husband and Wife

Nadia Sonneveld

In the year 2000, Egyptian women were given the right to unilateral divorce through a procedure called khul'. Khul' became the source of much controversy in Egyptian society, and most judges interviewed by the author expressed a negative viewpoint when asked about it. Nevertheless, the introduction of the Family Court system in 2004, with the explicit aim of solving marital disputes through mediation and communication, has made possible a 'dialogue' between husband and wife in a khul' procedure. This applies even in situations where mediators and judges profess an unfavourable opinion of women who file for khul' divorce.

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Jeffrey A. Sluka

The ethnography of state terror is “high risk” research and there are real personal dangers for anyone who conducts fieldwork on this issue. Managing such dangers has particularly become an issue for those conducting primary research with perpetrators of state terror—the “rank and file” who apply the electric cattle prods and pull the triggers—and all of the researchers I know who have taken this path have been threatened in one form or another. Th is article reviews the core literature and latest developments in managing the physical dangers inherent in the ethnography of political violence and state terror, particularly fieldwork or primary research with the actual perpetrators themselves, makes practical recommendations for managing such dangers, and presents some ideas for developing risk management plans or protocols for researcher survival in perilous field sites.