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Workings of the State

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.

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Joshua Barker

Indonesia’s New Order was among the most repressive and violent states of the twentieth century. During Suharto’s period of rule (1966–1998), the state was directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of as many as a million or more of its own citizens and the incarceration of many more. While the worst of this violence occurred during the pogroms against communists in 1965–1966 and during the long occupation of East Timor, the whole New Order system of rule was constructed on what Benedict Anderson (2001a: 13) has described as a “vast machine of state violence.” This machine left behind a dangerous legacy that must be better understood if it is to be overcome in the years ahead (J. Bertrand 2002; Colombijn and Lindblad 2002).

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Between Resistance and the State

Caribbean Activism and the Invention of a National Memory of Slavery in France

Itay Lotem

Between 1998 and 2006, the memory of slavery in France developed from a marginalized issue into a priority of the state. This article examines the process in which community activists and state actors interacted with and against one another to integrate remembrance and the commemoration of slavery and its abolitions into a Republican national narrative. It focuses on a series of actions from the protests against the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in 1998 to the creation of the 10 May National Memorial Day to Slavery and Its Abolitions in 2006. Basing its analysis on oral history interviews and various publications, this article argues that “memory activists”—and particularly new anti-racist groups—mobilized the memory of slavery to address issues of community identity and resistance within the context of twenty-first-century republicanism. In so doing, they articulated a new kind of black identity in France.

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Securitization, alterity, and the state

Human (in)security on an Amazonian frontier

Marc Brightman and Vanessa Grotti

English abstract: Focusing on the region surrounding the Maroni River, which forms the border between Suriname and French Guiana, we examine how relations between different state and non-state social groups are articulated in terms of security. The region is characterised by multiple “borders” and frontiers of various kinds, the state boundary having the features of an interface or contact zone. Several key collectivities meet in this border zone: native Amazonians, tribal Maroon peoples, migrant Brazilian gold prospectors, and metropolitan French state functionaries. We explore the relationships between these different sets of actors and describe how their mutual encounters center on discourses of human and state security, thus challenging the commonly held view of the region as a stateless zone and showing that the “human security” of citizens from the perspective of the state may compete with locally salient ideas or ex- periences of well-being.

Spanish abstract: El artículo examina cómo se articulan las relaciones en términos de seguridad entre grupos estatales y no estatales en la región que rodea el Río Maroni (frontera entre la Guyana francesa y Surinam). La región se caracteriza por múltiples “límites” y tipos de fronteras, teniendo así la frontera Estatal características de una zona de contacto o de una interfaz. Importantes comunidades se encuentran en esta zona de frontera: Nativos del Amazonas, comunidades tribales del Maroni, buscadores de oro brasileños y funcionarios estatales franceses. Los autores exploran las relaciones entre estas diferentes redes de actores, y describen la manera en que sus mutuos encuentros se centran en discursos de seguridad humana y del Estado, desafiando así, el tradicional enfoque que sostiene la región como una zona sin Estado y mostrando que la “seguridad humana” desde la perspectiva del Estado puede competir con importantes ideas locales o con experiencias de bienestar.

French abstract: En se concentrant sur la région entourant le fleuve Maroni, qui forme la frontière entre le Suriname et la Guyane française, nous examinons comment les relations entre les différents groupes sociaux étatiques et non-étatiques sont articulées en termes de sécurité. La région est caractérisée par de multiples «frontières» et les frontières de toutes sortes, la frontière de l'État ayant les caractéristiques d'une interface ou zone de contact. De nombreuses et importantes collectivités se rencontrent dans cette zone frontalière: Indigènes d'Amazonie, la communauté tribale Maroon, les migrants brésiliens à la recherche de l'or et les fonctionnaires d'Etat de la France métropolitaine. Nous explorons les relations entre ces différents groupes d'acteurs, et décrivons la manière dont leurs rencontres mutuelles sont centrées sur les discours relatifs à la sécurité humaine et l'État, remettant ainsi en cause l'idée communément admise de la région en tant zone apatride et montrant par la même que la «sécurité humaine» des citoyens perçue du point de vue de l'État peut rivaliser avec des idées saillantes au niveau local ou des expériences relatives au bien-être.

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The State, Legal Rigor, and the Poor

The Daily Practice of Welfare Control

Vincent Dubois

This article focuses on the means by which the state controls welfare recipients in France. The paradox of these actions, which are made in the name of legal rigor but are characterized by ambivalence and the discretionary power of grassroots agents, reveals the broader functioning of a government over the poor. These actions are based on the combination of a multitude of individual relationships, which, although unevenly coordinated, derive from the structural rationale of the post-welfare era. Individualization and uncertainty signal not so much a disaggregation of the state as a consistent mode of governance in which discretion and leeway accorded to street-level bureaucrats are necessary for the state to exert power over citizens' behaviors.

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The Arts, the State, and the EU

Cultural Policy in the Making of Europe

Monica Sassatelli

This article considers the development of a European Union (EU) cultural policy and its role in the making of Europe. One of the aims of cultural policy is the fostering of specific identities. Although normally associated with the state—the community thus 'imagined' being typically the nation, with the nation-state the prime actor of interventions on cultural matters—in the last 20-30 years, decentralisation on the one hand and Europeanization on the other have undermined the state monopoly of cultural policies, calling for a reconsideration of their rationale, objectives, and reach. This article contributes toward such reconsideration, concentrating on the Europeanization dimension. It is based on an account of how the EU is gradually establishing a competence in the field of culture and on a closer investigation into how its framework program, Culture 2000, has been implemented and interpreted in a local context.

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Images of Care, Boundaries of the State

Volunteering and Civil Society in Czech Health Care

Rosie Read

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.

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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

Reconsidering the trend in anthropology to conceptualize the multifaceted nature of the state and to focus on the local social dynamics beneath the institutional framework of the state, we argue that “state” is not a single governing entity but rather a multilayered body of practices at various levels of the society. We configure “state” as constructed, imagined, and negotiated by people in their everyday life in four dimensions: zones of limited statehood depicted as “peripheries,” “local state” by which the center governs locales, “public discourse” that represents dominant notions of “stateness,” and ambivalent positioning of political elites who represents state in the margin. This argument is substantiated with the reference to the case of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a southeastern part of Bangladesh.

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Freedom From, In and Through the State

T.H. Marshall’s Trinity of Rights Revisited

Zygmunt Bauman

Each one of T.H. Marshall’s trinity of human rights rested on the state as, simultaneously, its birth place, executive manager and guardian. And no wonder. At the time Marshall tied personal, political and social freedoms into a historically determined succession of won/bestowed rights, the boundaries of the sovereign state marked the limits of what humans could contemplate, and what they thought they should jointly do, in order to make their world more user-friendly. The state enclosed territory was the site of private initiatives and public actions, as well as the arena on which private interests and public issues met, clashed and sought reconciliation. In all those respects, the realm of state sovereignty was presumed to be self-contained, selfassertive and self-sufficient.

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The Australian Society of the State

Egalitarian Ideologies and New Directions in Exclusionary Practice

Bruce Kapferer and Barry Morris

This article considers the broad historical and ideological processes that participate in forming the continuities and discontinuities of Australian egalitarian nationalism. We draw attention to its forma- tion and re-formation in the debates surrounding the so-called Han- son phenomenon. Hansonism refracts the crisis of what we regard as the Australian society of the state in the circumstances of the devel- opment of neoliberal policies and the more recent neoconservative turn of the current Howard government. Our argument is directed to exploring the contradictions and tensions in Australian egalitarian thought and practice and its thoroughgoing creative reengagement in contemporary postcolonial and postmodern Australia.