This roundtable aims to explore future directions in the anthropology of the state. What new directions are emergent and what interventions are necessary in anthropological engagements with the state?
This roundtable aims to explore future directions in the anthropology of the state. What new directions are emergent and what interventions are necessary in anthropological engagements with the state? Over the past decades, anthropology has offered its ethnographically informed perspective on the state. It has questioned the nature and effects of the State Idea and sovereignty, examining how individuals and institutions come to stand in for that entity and with what effects. Anthropologists have also examined the state's disciplinary operation and the way subject populations have engaged with such disciplinary mechanisms. While the state has often appeared as inherently repressive, recently, several anthropologists have called for an understanding of policy practice and bureaucracy in terms of the state's utopian aspirations to produce the public good, and have drawn attention to the moral and affective dimensions of people's engagement with the state. Yet other anthropologists have examined governmental assemblages that include a range of actors, from active citizens to corporations, and have asked what forms of citizenship emerge as a result. And how does mobility impact various forms of statecraft? What relations do states develop with populations in flux? This roundtable invites scholars to reflect on the state of the art in anthropological engagements with the state. What kind of cases and foci have been central to that state of the art, and which have been absent? What kind of interventions may help push the field further?