In this article, we analyze processes of kinning within state-initiated programs of elder care in Serbia in order to explore how images of the state as an entity are cast as distinct from the domain of the family. We present data from the fieldwork we conducted in two settlements, in northern and central Serbia respectively. Contrary to the findings of many anthropological studies of the state, state actors in these cases surpass the expectations of citizens. Nevertheless, within complex processes of kinning between state-paid care workers and their clients, dominant images of an absent state as well as state-kinship boundaries are (re)produced. Placing this boundary work within the evolving relations at the center of the analysis underlines the merits of rethinking the interconnections between kinship and the state with a relational focus.
Tatjana Thelen, Andre Thiemann and Duška Roth
Shifting Sensitivities in Two Neighbourhood Spaces of Istanbul
The neighbourhood-based battles over norms and values in the ethnically diverse as well as sexual and gendered urban landscapes of the Istanbul neighbourhood (mahalle) spaces of Tophane and Kurtuluş reflect the complexity of the current political transformations that have been shaping Turkey as a whole and Istanbul in particular before and after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt. The analysis of the mahalle as the state’s margin reflects on how public moral talk, including the notion of ‘sensitivity’ (hassasiyet), reverberates in the making of public morality in both neighbourhood spaces. This article specifically focuses on the role of rumours in mediating ideas on behaviour deemed as in/appropriate in the mahalle as ‘moral territory’ and the mundane practices of self-appointed old and new ‘guards’ of the mahalle.
Toward a Relational Anthropology of the State
Tatjana Thelen, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann
In the introduction to this special issue, we discuss recent trends in anthropological research on and in theorizing the state. We show how these have given rise to an analytical gap between state images, on the one hand, and practices, on the other. Based on this analysis, we propose a relational approach that we call 'stategraphy' as a way to tie together state practices and representations. This ethnographically grounded approach focuses on relational modalities, boundary work, and forms of embeddedness of actors as constitutive factors. These avenues of analyses enable a nuanced understanding and comparative investigation of change and continuity as well as of mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion.
Volunteering and Civil Society in Czech Health Care
This article examines how boundaries of the state are negotiated and projected in Czech health care volunteering. Hospital regimes and the professional care provided by doctors and nurses are widely imagined as a domain of intensified state authority, a legacy of state socialism. I explore attempts by NGO actors, hospitals, and local government officials involved in three Czech volunteer programs to create alternative, non-medicalized forms of patient care as civil society, thereby reproducing the boundary between state and non-state that characterized civil society discourses of the 1990s in the region. Yet unlike those discourses and the anthropological analyses they have informed, this process of boundary making does not constitute the state and civil society as inevitably antagonistic or competitive entities.
Administrative Lists, European Union Food Aid, and the Local Practices of Distribution in Rural Romania
Ştefan Dorondel and Mihai Popa
In this article we analyze local distribution practices within an EU food aid program in Romania. We show that an understanding of this program's implementation can contribute to our understanding of how the state works in present-day Romania and, more generally, to the anthropology of the state. We examine the ways in which local-level bureaucrats gain discretion and exercise it when implementing the program. By securing greater control over a scarce transnational resource, local officials are able to shape national policy according to local distributive models. The described distribution process is conducive to community building, although in very different ways in the two rural settings being studied. We argue for a relational analysis of the workings of the state that explores the embeddedness of local actors and their participation in historically shaped power relations.
Migrants' Everyday Encounters with Italian Immigration Bureaucracy
Successful encounters with bureaucratic systems require users to be familiar with 'insider' rules and behaviour. This article examines migrants' everyday efforts to become and stay 'legal' in Italy, and shows how they need to develop particular strategies in order to do so. While these strategies help migrants in the short term, I argue that ultimately they enable the Italian state to reconcile its conflicting interests and reproduce migrants' marginal and insecure status in Italian society. Examining everyday mundane interactions with the state and its bureaucracy reveals the various ways in which state practices produce insecurity.
The Lenoir-Durkheim Lecture Notes on L'enseignement de la morale
William Watts Miller
These are lectures on morality, attributed to Durkheim by Raymond Lenoir and given to Steven Lukes, who reproduced them in his doctoral thesis on Durkheim. They are published, here, together and in full for the first time. The first group of lectures covers the family, as well as general issues in morality and moral education. The second group of lectures, on civic ethics, covers citizenship, democracy, the state, occupational groups, law, and the idea of la patrie. The lectures conclude with a familiar discussion of discipline, and a more original discussion of duties to oneself. The editorial introduction to the lectures explains the circumstances in which they came to light, and discusses issues of authenticity but also of the general role, in Durkheimian studies, of texts variously attributed to Durkheim or based on notes by his students.
Neo-liberal Statecraft in Contemporary Peru
Annabel Pinker and Penny Harvey
In this article, we deploy the concept of 'affect' to explore processes of state formation in contemporary Peru. Drawing on ethnography concerning a controversial engineering project in the Sacred Valley, we show how the state emerges as an affective force in the ambivalent spaces opened up by the slippages between the stable certainties promised by regulatory frameworks and the doubts generated by the ambiguities they pose. Tracing the tensions, gestures, and tiny shifts in perspective that punctuate an encounter between engineers and local politicians, we complicate the notion that a pre-existing state induces affects in political subjects. Instead, we show how the state emerges as a virtual force—neither quite present nor absent—in an uncertain, highly political field of negotiation.
Une sociologie d’État
It is traditional to discuss the relation between Durkheim and Weber as ‘founders of sociology’. At first sight, it might seem odd to couple Durkheim and Hegel. But it can be instructive to compare their approach to issues involving modern individualism, society and the state. In general, they subscribe to a combination of rationalism and developmental ethics, in which the rational is immanent in the real, despite the possibility of ‘contingent’ or ‘pathological’ departures from ‘normality’. More specifically, in the case of the state, they see one of its main historical roles as the emancipation of the individual in a development of the individual personality. At the same time they picture the state as ‘the brain’ of society and insist on its relative autonomy and independence from individuals. Instead, in a critique of direct democracy, they look to a web of intermediate groups and corporations. A basic problematic in their work, and a continuing source of reflection, is how to achieve a balance between individual rights and a necessary authority and legitimacy of public power. In both cases this balance rests, as a matter of principle, on confidence in the skills and civic virtue of political leaders.
Planning for redress or progress in South Africa
This article explores the contradictory and contested but closely inter- locking efforts of NGOs and the state in planning for land reform in South Africa. As government policy has come increasingly to favor the better-off who are potential commercial farmers, so NGO efforts have been directed, correspondingly, to safeguarding the interests of those conceptualized as poor and dispossessed. The article explores the claim that planned “tenure reform” is the best way to provide secure land rights, especially for laborers residing on white farms; illustrates the complex disputes over this claim arising between state and NGO sectors; and argues that we need to go beyond the concept of “neoliberal governmentality” to understand the relationship between these sectors.