Accepted Paper:

The state and the place(s) of politics: on the parliament of Quebec (and beyond)  


Samuel Shapiro (Université Laval)

Paper short abstract:

Nous utiliserons une ethnographie du Parlement du Québec pour réfléchir à l’État, les formes d’organisation politique et l’intégration de l’État à des dispositifs de plus en plus complexes. Nous interrogeons la relation entre l’État et le(s) « lieu(x) du politique » de Marc Abélès.

Paper long abstract:

Doing fieldwork at the Parliament of Quebec, I have often confronted questions about the relationship between institutions and the state. In response to this panel's querying the usages, dismantlement, transformations and aspects of the state, I advocate a view of the (nation) state as one form of political organization amid a broader reappraisal and reassessment of the isomorphic relationship between state and sovereignty as the bedrock of modern politics. If anthropology has long analyzed non-state forms such as tribes, and a more recent trend has analyzed forms of international governance, few anthropological analyses have analyzed sub-state actors beyond the framework of the sovereign states of which they are politically and legally a part and beyond movements for greater autonomy or political independence. My goal is to analyze such "constituent nations" as political actors in their own right in order to complement work on sovereign nation states and international institutions and arrive at a view of the (nation) state as one amongst a variety of political actors in an increasingly complex political and legal context. If such an analysis may not seem to place the nation state at the centre of its analysis, it does still respond to fundamental interrogations about what Marc Abélès calls "the place of the political" and the wider, evolving contexts in which nation states exist today. As such, I contribute to anthropological reflection on "places of politics" that coexist alongside the nation state that, unlike many international institutions, share its executive/legislative structure.

Panel RM-SPK03
L'Etat dans tous ses états/ The state in all its forms [Commission on Theoretical Anthropology]