Bureaucratic practices and subjectivization in the naturalisation process: a political anthropology of the "Bureau des Naturalisations" in France
(Centre Marc Bloch)
Paper short abstract:
Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this communication aims at analyzing French naturalization. By describing how Bureaucrats conceive the grant of citizenship as a process, which tests applicants and selects them, it puts into question applicants’ agency and lived experience of administrative ordeals.
Paper long abstract:
By combining observations held in a prefecture and interviews with street-level bureaucrats and recently naturalized citizens, my communication aims at analyzing the naturalization process in France. Drawing on a political anthropology of State, I examine both institutions and subjects. First, I will describe the moral economy of naturalization in contemporary France, and the way it has been modelled by immigration issues. Political contexts have determined how citizenship and nationality have been problematized, and this communication will primarily explain how values, norms and feelings that circulate between bureaucrats and applicants have been historically and socially framed. I will then examine how bureaucrats in charge of naturalization put into practice Nationality and Immigration policies. This bottom-up approach reveals how public administration reforms impact bureaucrats' professional practices. Moreover, it shows how the wide level of discretion granted to these bureaucrats determines policies, and frames applicants' reactions and (future) naturalized citizens' behaviour. Thus, this communication will examine implicit and explicit values and forms of categorization to question relations of power, with particular attention to the encompassing classifications and assumptions embodied in street-level bureaucrats' ideas and practices. Finally, I aim at questioning how bureaucratic processes - which are both administrative and moral - impact bureaucrats' and naturalized citizens' subjectivities, in order to put into question the relation between administrative control and produced modes of subjectivization.
The anthropology of public services and bureaucracies