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Accepted Paper:

Questioning Dominant Logics and Forms of the Political Through an Ethnography of the Parliament of Quebec  
Samuel Shapiro (Université Laval)

Paper short abstract:

Preconceived ideas that dominant logics come from the nation-state and alternatives to them come from below can be usefully challenged through institutional ethnographies. This reveals the diversity and nuances of state institutions and that nation-state is not the necessary form of the political.

Paper long abstract:

Many anthropologists have studied how new collective imaginaries question neoliberal logics through redefining what is important, which this panel’s convenors refer to as “value.” In this paper, based on ethnographic fieldwork at the Parliament of Quebec, I seek to focus on two aspects of this situation that have received comparatively less attention. Firstly, anthropologists should question dominant logics through ethnographic studies of “the state” or “bureaucracy,” including their symbolic centres such as parliaments. This reveals an evolving and fluid boundary between “state” and “society” (e.g. new political parties and viewpoints, private citizens becoming elected officials). Moreover, parliaments and other “state” or “bureaucratic” bodies contain a diversity of perspectives within them. The points of view that form government or hold influence today will not do so forever in most democracies. Secondly, collective imaginaires can occur at several scales of the political that are far from limited to the nation-state, civil society or transnational processes. Entities that do not fit into these neat categories (e.g. international organizations, federated entities) and whose future political form or role is uncertain or debated need to brought into these conversations on an equal footing. Multiple perspectives on the future of these political entities coexist within parliaments (as well as in broader society) alongside a diversity of other debates and political cleavages. Just as dominant logics can be challenged by centres of power, the nation-state is not the necessary or default form of the political.

Panel P056
Social and economic imaginaries from below: alternative production and consumption initiatives as democratic challenges
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -