EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P010)
Patronage-clientelism 2.0: the legacy of Mediterraneanist anthropology in contemporary corruption/anti-corruption studies [MedNet]
Location U7-13
Date and Start Time 22 July, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Jutta Lauth Bacas email
  • Dorothy Louise Zinn (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano) email

Mail All Convenors

Discussant Dorothy L. Zinn (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano)

Short Abstract

The legacy of Mediterraneanist studies is relevant for reflecting on contemporary patronage and corruption and on resistance and political change within newer collective protest. Proposals may draw on work in the Mediterranean or elsewhere, engaging the Mediterraneanist literature on the theme.

Long Abstract

Studies of clientelism, patronage and corruption have been relevant in the anthropology of the Mediterranean since the 1960s and 70s, describing practices that tend to persist even today in the region and informing studies elsewhere. Renewing these earlier lines of study, contemporary anthropological research focuses on current transformations in patron-client relationships in the light of the significant changes that Mediterranean societies have undergone since the 1980s. As various global scandals have recently highlighted (Volkswagen, FIFA, Olympic doping), however, the legacy of Mediterreanist patronage-clientelism studies also has implications well beyond the regional area. Alongside phenomena of persistence and change in practices of patronage and corruption, we perceive growing opposition and protest articulated by local communities or by new social movements, even transnationally and internationally. These movements develop new practices of collective protest such as on-line activism and digital networking, and in many locations, they see and define themselves in distinct opposition to the often clientelistic party structures of their countries. Contributors to the panel are invited to reflect on practices pertaining to patronage and corruption on one hand, and on resistance and political change within new political protest groups, solidarity initiatives and cultural projects which, on the other hand, have been rising in context of the economic crisis since 2008. Proposals may draw on anthropological work in Mediterranean settings or offer a comparative view from outside the area, engaging the literature on the Mediterranean, while reflecting on the global relations of power that configure discourses of patronage, corruption and transparency.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Accounting for corporate corruption: lessons from Mediterraneanist anthropology

Author: Cris Shore (University of Auckland)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing on Mediterraneanist anthropology and debates about clientelism and corruption, this paper explores the curious relationship between the rise of corporate fraud scandals and the expansion of the Big Four accountancy firms.

Long Abstract

Anthropological studies of Mediterranean patronage-clientelism and corruption highlighted two key points: first the moral quality of these exploitative yet deeply personal relationships; second their systemic nature and the structural positions (middlemen, brokers, supplicants etc.) of those located within these networks. These features provoked major debates about the limits of empiricism and the class nature of patronage-clientelism. Drawing on these themes, I ask how useful is the legacy of Mediterraneanist patronage-clientelism studies for understanding contemporary forms of clientelism and corruption beyond the Mediterranean?

Patronage-clientelism and corruption were traditionally seen as problems endemic to under-developed marginal countries characterised by weak states, powerful self-serving elites, civic disengagement and a pervasive ethos of 'amoral familism'. Yet recent decades have seen an explosion of fraud and corruption scandals in the Global North, particularly in its more developed commercial, banking and financial sectors. Paradoxically, this has occurred at the same time as the massive expansion of company auditing by international accountancy firms (KPMG, PwC, EY, Deloitte) - whose oft-proclaimed mission is to ensure transparency, combat fraud, and promote ethical conduct. How are these trends connected? Why have these financial watchdogs so often failed to detect fraud? I suggest that the close links between accountancy firms and their clients create conflicts of interest and collusion that provide ideal conditions for corruption to flourish. Finally, I ask; how might these examples of regulatory failure and accountancy fraud help us to rethink clientelism and corruption in an age of audit culture?

De-localizing perceptions: constructing European citizenships between corruption and the negation of the state

Author: Petros Passas (International Medical Corps)  email

Short Abstract

This paper argues that political subjectivity engendered by the economic crisis in Greece requires that local corruption perceptions be understood not as a refraction of uniquely local phenomena, but on a sliding scale of analysis that begins with the local and ends with the supranational.

Long Abstract

This paper, based on doctoral research conducted in Ermoupolis, Greece between 2013-2015, argues that the Greek economic crisis offers the opportunity to re-examine the category of corruption anthropologically to take a more critical stance towards the proliferation of corruption perceptions as an evaluative mechanism. Differing from other anthropological critiques of corruption perceptions, which question the homogenizing tendencies of corruption perceptions indices, it argues that corruption perceptions, as articulated through everyday discourse within a small community in Greece, actually offer a perspective which reifies the national state as a refraction of the European one, and therefore, offers key insights into how the idea of European citizenship is being constructed in the European periphery.

By connecting ethnographic data on the crisis with corruption perceptions, the paper thus explores the concomitant shifts in political subjectivity engendered by this expanded critical understanding of corruption, and the relation between austerity, perceptions of corruption and personal experience with government. It analyzes how corruption has come to represent the very shortcomings of a comprised democratic system in Greece and has thereby created political subjectivities void of any meaningful outlet of civic expression. By identifying the relationship between perceptions of corruption and the experience of citizenship, the paper argues for an expanded perspective of corruption which requires that we no longer situate local corruption perceptions as a refraction of strictly local phenomenon, but on a sliding scale of analysis that begins with the local and tangible and ends with the supranational and intangible.

Austerity policies and high-level patronage in Greece

Author: Jutta Lauth Bacas  email

Short Abstract

The paper focuses on a case of persisting patronage by reconstructing the story of the Lagarde list in Greece. After reconstructing the decisions taken by Greek politicians since 2010, a conclusion will be drawn regarding the significance of political patronage in the context of austerity policies.

Long Abstract

Party patronage in the form of 'trading' political votes against benefits and rewards in the public sector can be understood as one oft he main features oft he post-war Greek political culture. In dept-ridden Greece of today such long-established patterns of rewarding political followers have become difficult for political leaders since the international creditors demand that the country should reduce its public spending. The paper will investigate the question if patterns of clientelism and patronage are consequently changing in Greece.

In the main part of my paper, a case-in-point regarding the pattern of political patronage is discussed: the so-called Lagarde list. The Lagarde list, a document containing roughly 2,000 names of potential Greek tax evaders with accounts at a Swiss bank, was delivered to the than Minister of Finance in October 2010. A detailed reconstruction of what happened after receiving this crucial information and what kind of action was taken (or not!) by Greek governments until 2015 reveals a pertaining pattern of political patronage. By delaying relevant instructions and by postponing tax investigations, politicians in Athens managed to protect wealthy Greek depositors in Swiss banks, who happened to be family, friends or members of the ruling parties. In the final part of my presentation, a conclusion will be drawn stressing the relevance of political patronage in the overall context of austerity policies in Greece.

Veze and shtele in welfare: personhood, citizenship, power in a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Author: Carna Brkovic (Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies)  email

Short Abstract

This paper thinks through the work that veze and shtele do in the everyday life of a town in BiH. It approaches clientelist relations in welfare as entangled with transnational processes, suggesting that clientelism and contemporary forms of flexible governance are often mutually constitutive.

Long Abstract

This paper thinks through the work that veze and shtele do in the everyday life of a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Veze literally mean relations and connections, while shtele (štele) literally mean relations / connections that had to be fixed.

Veze and shtele affected access to welfare, intertwining public administrations with logics of friendship, kinship, and compassion. This intertwining was not just the outcome of complicated postwar and postsocialist reconstructions of the country. The paper suggests that interpreting clientelism and favors as context-specific responses to a failing statehood and dysfunctional institutions of a (nation-)state perpetuates the hegemonic story about the inevitable direction of progress and modernization, thus impoverishing the political imagination.

The paper makes a case for analyzing contemporary clientelist relations in BiH as entangled with transnational processes. Clientelism and contemporary forms of flexible governance are not necessarily contradictory to one another, but often mutually constitutive. Clientelism in BiH fit right into the growing expectation to proactively look for opportunities, forge networks and alliances, and negotiate different welfare arrangements. Welfare reforms in BiH reinforced ambiguities over what the 'state' is and how it relates to 'society', thus encouraging the patterns of clientelist relationality, rather than disturbing them. The sneaking in clientelism within welfare should not be interpreted as backwardly unruly. Instead, it can be understood as a contextually specific manifestation of an emerging global direction of governmentality in which public and private responsibilities and roles are not envisioned as neatly distinct.

World going one way, people another: ultras football gangs survival networks and clientelism in post-socialist Romania

Author: Dinu Guțu (National school of political and administrative studies Bucharest)  email

Short Abstract

The ultras brigades formed in full transition Romania are nothing but specific survival networks of that period. These groups that embodied neighborhood gangs used football as a pretext for meeting and leisure, while at the same time extending kinship networks and economic exchanges.

Long Abstract

The post-socialist transition in Romania can be understood through the shift from moral communities into networks of influence, on the one hand and networks of survival on the other. Additionally, central institutions no longer had authority to the periphery. Local and regional elites had reorganized into multiple networks of influence which have acted independently from the center (Nazpary: 2002). A significant element of this process was the dismantling of the welfare state. The hypothesis of this paper is that some of the ultras' brigades formed in full transition Romania are nothing but specific survival networks of that period. For more than ten years these groups that embodied neighborhood gangs used football as a pretext for meeting and leisure, while at the same time extending kinship networks and economic exchanges. This paper analyzes from an ethnographic perspective for over seven years, the manner in which these football fans networks have developed in a state with weak or under consolidated institutions, where informal relations are strong and well consolidated. The insights portray the clientelistic dimension of these networks and how resources are distributed, as well as the interdependencies between the leader and the rest of the members of the group.

Peripheral futures: equivocations of modernity between architecture and anthropology

Author: Alessandro Froldi  email

Short Abstract

The Italian periferia is a central site from where we can test tensions between politics and planning in post-war Italy. In my paper I discuss how urban social movements have differently engaged the Milanese periphery, its tensions and contradictions across a long term period.

Long Abstract

In post war Italy, architects and planners had been engaged in the conceptualisation of a modern future for the city that is most visible in the creation of new neighbourhoods in the urban periphery. Drawing on my own fieldwork in a neighbourhood in the Milanese periphery, I explore, through visual, archival and ethnographic methods, how the idea of future proposed by modern architecture has been “emptied” in the course of the 1970s. This space has been occupied by a number of different forms of imagination of politics itself involving recurring ideas and insinuation of corruption such as that of “rito ambrosiano” to refer to the bending of planning regulation by corrupted politicians and developers. I propose that this void can still be assumed as a new creative laboratory for a future oriented anthropology of planning and activism that could intervene in the making of the city.

Popular agenda in times of austerity: "I will choose who i will let to cheat me"

Author: Murilo Guimarães (Social Sciences Institute - Lisbon University)  email

Short Abstract

My analysis intends to relate “patronage” and the notion of “strategy” in order to understand how and why people - specially during these electoral periods marked by the national debate on “austerity” and “refugee crisis” – disavow the political status quo.

Long Abstract

My analysis intends to relate "patronage" and the notion of "strategy" in order to understand how and why people - specially during these electoral periods marked by the national debate on "austerity" and "refugee crisis" - disavow the political status quo. This behaviour has been noted in the increasing of the electoral abstention and, on the other hand, in the growth of small parties with strong leaders, who seem to respond to the popular demand for respect and dignified treatment by the public authorities. Since November 2014, I have carried out the fieldwork for my Phd research in Evora, one of the major cities of the Alentejo, in the Mediterranean Portuguese region. From the pre-campaign to the poll of the last Portuguese legislative and presidential elections, which occurred respectively in October 4th and January 24th, I attended to rallies and meetings of candidates with businessmen and representatives of different social groups. I have also participated in private meetings of a local group of male activists of the Socialist Party. All these field activities revealed the persistence of clientelist relations, involving both local and national state administration and relevant political actors as well. My research has been able to demonstrate the foundations of the personalist approach related to the public facilities, according to local citizens, current Communist officers and other parties' activists in Evora.

The politics of 'autonomy': Greek university students (dis)avowing clientelism and negotiating party relations

Author: Maria Doukakarou (University of the Aegean)  email

Short Abstract

The paper focuses on the ways university students in Greece, members of a political group affiliated with a political party negotiate their relations with the latter through a discourse of “autonomy” that involves different conceptualizations and evaluations of clientelism.

Long Abstract

In a university campus, situated just outside a provincial town in island Greece, students- members of a student collective constitutionally allied to socialist PASOK (a political party with substantial influence in the local context) in everyday rhetoric and in election campaigns emphasize their "autonomy" from the party's politics and criticize the latter's involvement in the use of clientelistic practices. At the same time however, they systematically depend on practices of vote exchanging both to form the collective's internal hierarchy and to enhance its place in the university's institutional context. Vote-exchanging combined with practices that lead to a distribution of job resources in coffee houses or night entertainment spots in town, ensures the collective's numerical (and thus electoral) precedence in the university campus and enables its members to take part in a number of administrative procedures. Furthermore it empowers the students in their encounters with members of the local branch of the party and serves as the basis of a constant renegotiation of the broader relations they constitute with PASOK in local and national context. Drawing systematically from ethnographic fieldwork conducted from 2006-2008 in Rethymno-Crete the paper stands in accordance with recent anthropological approaches that seek the political in daily life and in subjects' interactions. It seeks to highlight the different meanings that subjects attribute to forms of connection or networks of power that have been analyzed as clientelism and to record indigenous conceptualizations and evaluations of them, thus proposing ways of looking at the notion anew.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.