Accepted Paper:

Dis-locating the state from the border post: reflections of doing ethnography with bureaucrats on Romania-Serbia border  

Author:

Cosmin Radu (Manchester University)

Paper short abstract:

Following several ethnographic vignettes collected from my last years’ fieldtrips on the everyday life of border’s bureaucrats, I examine how a the state and state-like abstractions such as EU are produced and reproduced in the locality of a very particular field site: the border post.

Paper long abstract:

Herzfeld's ground-breaking considerations of bureaucracy have been widely developed in ethnographic research. As a reflection of a general cultural turn in social sciences, by now there is a growing and very diverse anthropological literature which tries to avoid ideal typical and fixist definitions of the state. How much can we objectify the state and to what extent can we argue its disappearance, as anthropologists? My paper addresses this kind of questions from a very particular case of border-making process: Romania-Serbia border in the aftermath of the last EU enlargement. My paper looks for the state at alternative places, as embodied and represented in the interactions and, more generally, social relations between border guards and border crossers. Following several ethnographic vignettes collected from my last years' fieldtrips on the everyday life of border's bureaucrats, I examine how a the state and state-like abstractions such as EU are produced and reproduced in the locality of a very particular field site: the border post. Furthermore, my paper wants to interrogate and leave open the question of how these processes change scale and positionality of the borderland I inquire into.

Panel W052
World(s) of bureaucrats