This panel discusses the variegated settings in which contemporary brokers thrive. It aims to reinvigorate the classic debate on brokerage as traditional politics toward analyzing it as producing complex intimacies, novel collaborations and material spaces in an interconnected world.
In an interconnected world, brokerage processes become increasingly valuable in order to gain access to resources, technologies and value-imbued networks. Brokers are mediators, translators and mergers who fill the gap between actors, discourses and moralities, whilst constructing their identities and reconstituting spaces of collaboration. They may mobilize relational spaces for enhancing broad-based participation, but may equally appropriate space in a bid for closure of practice. Brokers may give expression to a community logics centering on intimate and informal relationships. Brokers may be part of "traditional" politics, in which they draw on their vested authority to bridge the sociopolitical distance between power-holders and constituencies. In other settings, they have entered or reclaimed their position in political fields typified by political disorientation and pluralism, occupying tasks and voids left by a retreating state. We welcome papers on the politics of brokerage in different settings across the globe. Papers may focus on brokerage as producing complex intimacies and novel collaborations between different groups. They may zoom in on the, often ambivalent, role of the broker. They may deal with recent changes in which brokerage has (re)gained a foothold where new technologies evolve or the state retreats, e.g. in the field of welfare provision, development and citizenship. We envisage the rethinking of classic anthropological themes of brokerage, clientelism and patronage towards analyses of brokers' cultural backgrounds, styles and repertoires and an understanding of the materiality and spatiality of brokerage as it shapes specific sites of engagement and constructs boundary objects.