Inf05
The sociality of taxes: state-citizen imaginaries
Convenors:
Robin Smith (University of Oxford)
Nicolette Makovicky (University of Oxford)
Chair:
Nicolette Makovicky, Robin Smith
Discussant:
Lotta Björklund Larsen
Stream:
Infrastructure
Format:
Location:
Examination Schools Room 14
Start time:
20 September, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

We invite researchers to consider the ways in which state efforts to instill fiscal discipline through the collection of taxes shape how the state is imagined, materialized, and experienced by citizens in everyday life.

Long abstract:

Anthropologists have recently examined the cultures and material infrastructures of bureaucracy to understand encounters between citizens, state institutions, and state agents (Hull 2012, Graeber 2015, Mathur 2016). We invite researchers to consider the ways in which state efforts to instill fiscal discipline through the collection of taxes shape how the state is imagined, materialized, and experienced by citizens in everyday life. Tax provides citizens with a means to conceptualize their responsibilities and rights vis-à-vis the state as well as each other (Guano 2010), making it a matter of both politics and moral economy. Studying the setting, collection, and evasion of taxes can therefore shed light not only on the particular relations between capital, class, and the state, but on the particular ways in which these relations are embedded in the vernacular imagination. We are interested in submissions that problematize state-society relations through the prism of taxes. How do citizens interpret state efforts to collect taxes and instill other forms of fiscal discipline? How do state actors use tax enforcement to superimpose their expectations of citizen behavior, and conversely, what tax-related strategies do citizens employ to voice expectations of the state? What values and assumptions are embedded in reforms and the modes of resisting them? How do communities coordinate 'fiscal disobedience' (Roitman 2005) in their attempts to circumvent what they perceive as unjust reforms? What new cleavages may emerge from reforms as states harmonize financial systems with international norms, curb fiscal misdemeanors, and draw populations into combating tax evasion and fraud?