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The will to care, the will to punish, and the state in between 
Simon Tawfic (University of Warwick)
Puja-Arti Patel (University of Warwick)
Charlotte Ramble (University of Cambridge)
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Irene Vega (University of California, Irvine)
Sophie Andreetta (University of Liège)
Piyush Pushkar (University of Manchester)
Insa Koch (University of Sankt Gallenis)
Katerina Rozakou (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences)
Catarina Frois (ISCTE-IUL)
Tuesday 23 July, -, -Wednesday 24 July, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

This panel asks if care and punishment are inevitably two sides of the same coin in the governance of marginality. How might care be wielded as justification for punishment in discourse, policy and practice? How do street-level bureaucrats, and those at the margins, tackle this irrevocable tension?

Long Abstract:

Interventions by Western humanitarian organisations in the Global South frequently evoke 'compassion' and 'rescue'; meanwhile, critical scholars decry the 'punitive turn' taken by Western governments on home soil since the 1980s.

This panel questions this apparent binary between humanitarianism and punitivism by examining their overlap in governing agendas, everyday logics, practices and core justifications. This comes at a time when governments in the 'Global North' are increasingly deploying humanitarian rhetoric to justify, paradoxically, the criminalisation of those claiming humanitarian protection (Koch 2020; Aliverti 2022).

Anthropologists find ‘the state’ rich in such paradoxes, capable of simultaneously enacting care and violence (Fassin 2015:xi; Jusionyte 2018), and inspiring hope and dread (Lea 2021). Instead of characterising street-level bureaucrats’ practices as inevitable products of these paradoxes, this panel explores the unpredictable, improvised and localised nature of their emotional and moral labour. We seek to foreground the fragmented, contested character of governmental projects, focussing on how institutional actors navigate care, suffering, and control in order to cultivate moral authority.

Questions include:

How do street-level bureaucrats practice ‘domestic’ humanitarianism? Does this ever oppose or serve punitive agendas?

How do those on the margins justify their claims on 'the state'? How do they negotiate the demands of demonstrating innocence, sincerity, and the potential for ethical transformation?

What vulnerabilities merit care and protection? What kinds of folk devil and societal threats are blamed for human suffering, and so deserving of punishment? Are there overlaps between those who merit care and those who deserve punishment?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -
Session 3 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -