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Desired formality

Labor migration, black markets, and the state in Chile

Sofía Ugarte

Formal work is essential to gain legal residence in Chile and the reason why Latin American and Caribbean migrants purchase fake contracts on the black market. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with migrant Haitian women applying for work visas in Santiago, this article explores the effects of desired formality and its promises of a good life on contemporary statehood in Chile. The analysis shows how Haitian women’s efforts to become formal workers transform their experiences as racialized and gendered migrants in Chile, and impact how state institutions manage and control migration. Desired formality reveals the paradoxical character of state policies that help create a racialized and precarious labor force within its legal frameworks and explain why migrants attach themselves to fragile good-life projects in new countries.

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Adrianna Tassone and Mindi D. Foster

to be more sensitive to potential punishment ( Ball and Zuckerman 1990 ). Further, exploratory analyses showed that introverts were also motivated by greater perceived formality and effectiveness of action. Correlations showed that perceived risk and

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Perverse Economies of Intimate and Personal Labour

Resuming Domestic Work in Households after the Lockdown

Pooja Satyogi

after the end of the lockdown period. Drawing on ethnographic work with women domestic workers in the city of Delhi, this article delineates how formalities of hand-washing, social distancing and mask-wearing at work have begun to inflect intimate and

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The Rule of Law as a Condition for Development Toward Sustainability

Toward a New Legally Oriented Environment at a Global Level

Giovanni Tartaglia Polcini

oriented environment in a multilevel order. In the rule by law, law may be used as a tool to oppress or discriminate against people and avoid accountability under the guise of formality, legality, and legitimacy (see Sacco and Polcini 2017 ). The Italian

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Paul Stephenson

The Canada/U.S. border has not shifted physically in many years but psychologically the border is in a very different place today than before 9/11. While the various agreements of the late 1900s seemed to indicate that the border was becoming an informal formality, the events of 9/11 resulted in a significant increase in wait times as security protocols were tightened. This review article considers recent scholarship on border mobility, waiting, and their implications moving forward.

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Christine McCourt, Nicola Frost, and Kakoly Pandé

Managing Island Life: Social, Economic and Political Dimensions of Formality and Informality in ‘Island’ Communities. Edited by Jonathan Skinner and Mils Hills. Dundee: University of Abertay Dundee Press, 2006, 261pp, £12.99 (available from UAD Alumni Office). ISBN 1-899796-14-2.

Power, Community and the State: The Political Anthropology of Organisation in Mexico. By Monique Nuijten. London: Pluto Press, 2003, 240pp, £17.99, paperback. ISBN 9780745319469.

The Roma Café: Human Rights and the Plight of the Romani People. By Istvàn Pogàny. London: Pluto Press, 2004, 216pp, £14.00, paperback. ISBN 9780745320519

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Papering Over the Gaps

Documents, Infrastructure and Political Experimentation in Highland Peru

Annabel Pinker

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.

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Lionel Blue


In this article, Lionel Blue describes the role played by the Beth Din, the Jewish religious court, of the UK Reform Jewish movement, of which he was the Convenor. He writes with humour of the way he tried to humanize what might otherwise be a strange and daunting experience for people. The court deals with conversion to Judaism, issues of Jewish status, legal matters associated with divorce. He describes the emphasis that has to be placed on supporting the individuals facing these deeply personal life-changing situations. Beyond the purely traditional legal issues and formality, greater attention and understanding should be given to the relationships people actually enter into today, and to the people themselves, their needs and their possibilities.

Open access

Amanda J. Reinke


Documents are part of interactive sociocultural worlds in which ethnographers can analyse topics such as power relations, social struggle, violence and secrecy. While they emerge from bureaucratic administration, apparently mundane and stagnant documents represent dynamic processes of decision-making, knowledge production and exclusion. I consider ethnographic research on documents and their production as one that offers significant insights into bureaucratic violence and the tensions between formality and informality in alternative dispute resolution in Virginia and the San Francisco Bay Area. This article discusses working with documents that are simultaneously bound by law and exist extra-legally. While documents are used to gain economic support, strengthen relationships between non-profit and government bodies, and evidence ‘success’, the processes have difficulties. The data demonstrate that bureaucratisation has resulted in cumbersome processes and expensive requirements that mirror the exclusion and power asymmetries of formal law itself.

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Frances Steel

on the Atlantic and Indian oceans, notably with respect to the imprint of social class and imperial formalities. 7 Were these divisions as marked in the interwar decades too, or did the heightened mobility witnessed in this period generate something