Accepted Papers:

Exploring the Intrastate: analysing the state from within  


Tessa Diphoorn (Utrecht University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper argues that the intrastate dimension between state officials and bodies has not yet been fully developed to understanding how the state is produced and enacted in anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

The growing sub-discipline of the 'anthropology of the state' has outlined the numerous ways in which the state is shaped, produced, represented, imagined, and enacted. This bulk of work has highlighted the fragmented and hybrid forms of statehood (particularly in the post-colonial world), and has emphasises that even in societies where the state is perceived to be failing or weak, it continues to play a dominant role in defining citizens' lives. In this presentation, I argue that we should focus on a perspective that is often overlooked in this anthropological analysis on the state, namely the intrastate dimension. This refers to the numerous ways in which state officials and bodies interact (or do not interact) with each other, internally, to co-produce the 'state'. Although this dimension has been explored in criminology and public administration, an anthropological focus on the intrastate remains to be developed. To exemplify my point, I will draw from qualitative data collected in Kenya between 2017-2018 about several referral mechanisms that have been developed between different state institutions to deal with complaints against public officers. These mechanisms are aimed at enhancing relationships between institutions in order to provide better public services. Through this example, I aim to show that the intrastate feature is crucial to understanding how the state operates, how state authority is enacted, and how the state can act as the custodian of its citizens.

Panel P131
Anthropologies of the state: critical interventions, new directions [Roundtable]