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Toward a Relational Anthropology of the State
Edited by Tatjana Thelen, Larissa Vetters, and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann
170 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-699-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (November 2017)
ISBN 978-1-78533-700-0 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (November 2017)
eISBN 978-1-78533-701-7 eBook
“What is particularly notable in this book is that it narrates the complexities of the state and specificities of the local contexts in an accessible language. It also successfully escapes alienating disciplinary concepts while it does not lose the rigor of the ethnographic approach. The accessibly presented content could, therefore, easily engage in the interdisciplinary dialogue about the issues of the contemporary state.” • Südosteuropa. Journal of Politics and Society
“Stategraphy is an anthology that brings together eight insightful contributions, which are set in the context of a profound introduction. The latter finely sets out the theoretical framework and the core aim of the volume that tends to bridge the analytical gap between state image and state practice…All chapters are based on extensive ethnographic research, and thus offer insightful ethnographic accounts that are finely translated and interpreted within the mentioned analytical framework. The anthology’s analytical approach reaches beyond the anthropological context; hence, it can be useful for those who are interested in the fractured, ever-shifting fields such as the state.” • Anthropological Notebooks
“Drawing on a rich set of case studies conducted across Europe, Stategraphy opens a new line of research in the growing field of the ethnographies of the state. Resolute to bridge the gap between cultural representations and actual practices, and attentive to the relational dimensions of street-level bureaucracies, the authors outline a comparative approach to contemporary states, which will be of interest for both anthropologists and political scientists.” • Didier Fassin, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, co-author of At the Heart of the State: The Moral Life of Institutions
“This collection makes a strong case for a comparative ethnography of the (modern) state. While much of the anthropological work on the state concerns Africa, the contributions in this book draw in an innovative way on examples from Europe and Russia. The contributors/editors rightly advocate for bridging state ideas and state practices, and for taking into account the benevolent side of the state.” • Pierre Oliver de Sardan, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Social and the Centre National de la recherché Scientifique
Stategraphy—the ethnographic exploration of relational modes, boundary work, and forms of embeddedness of actors—offers crucial analytical avenues for researching the state. By exploring interactions and negotiations of local actors in different institutional settings, the contributors explore state transformations in relation to social security in a variety of locations spanning from Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans to the United Kingdom and France. Fusing grounded empirical studies with rigorous theorizing, the volume provides new perspectives to broader related debates in social research and political analysis.
Tatjana Thelen is full professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna, and recently fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Bielefeld University, leading the research group on “Kinship and Politics.” She coedited a special issue of Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology entitled “Social Security and Care after Socialism” (2007) and the volume Reconnecting State and Kinship (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).
Larissa Vetters currently acts as research coordinator of the Law and Society Institute at the Humboldt University of Berlin. She previously worked as a lecturer at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg (2011–2013). Her research focuses on processes of (external) state-building in Bosnia and Herzegovina and, more recently, on migrants encounters with the German state in the frame of administrative court cases.
Keebet von Benda-Beckmann is professor emeritus, former head of the Project Group Legal Pluralism, and currently associate of the Department of Law and Anthropology, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. Recent publications include the coedited Rules of Law and Laws of Ruling: On the Governance of Law (Ashgate, 2009) and the coauthored Political and Legal Transformations of an Indonesian Polity (Cambridge University Press, 2013).