Philip Abrams’s notion of the “state-idea” has been of immense influence
in the anthropology of the state. This article suggests a contrary reading of Abrams’s
“Notes on the difficulty of studying the state” (1988) that focuses instead on his
notion of “politically organized subjection,” which allows us to examine contemporary
statehood in crisis where political practice increasingly seems “unmasked.”
The article examines such strategies of politically organizing subjection in the contexts
of current EU-Europe and Turkey. It highlights the role of hegemony-building
strategies that do not so much mask political practice as openly promote
polarization in society, directing ideological and material efforts at strengthening
leadership over the own class alliance and using both overt and structural coercion
to suppress political projects opposed to neoliberal authoritarianism.
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