This panel will discuss the contentions and compromises that characterise the relationship between individuals and the state, which lead to its de-fetishisation. We encourage contributors to examine how terms like managing diversity, social cohesion or integration are active fields of power.
This workshop seeks papers that interrogate the different contentions and compromises that characterise the complex relationship between individuals and the state, which lead to de-fetishisation of the state. We are interested in papers that critique the notion of the state as an entity that secures its continuity and indisputability by infusing its power into each individual. We encourage contributors to examine different ways that anthropologists can understand the significance of state policies on homogenisation, such as social cohesion and integration policies. We are particularly interested in ethnographies that explore how individuals and social groups that are deemed as 'insufficiently integrated' or 'not educated enough' or 'underdeveloped' by the state consciously or semi-consciously employ various strategies that challenge and/or reproduce the homogenising policy of the state. We are also interested in ethnographies of the state that examine the complex ways in which policy makers contend and conform with an imagined ideal state in ways that contribute and undermine the state legitimisation and state-building project. For example, we will discuss to what degree are terms like local and foreign, managing diversity, aliens, social cohesion, or integration are not only one-way developments but active fields where power is gained and lost, legitimised and de-legitimised. When does the lack of 'integration' becomes a 'problem' and when it can become a particular source of power leverage for those the state wants to 'domesticate'? When do action and non-action become equally powerful strategies?