Compliant States

Sarah Kabanoff (University of Newcastle )
Georgina Ramsay (University of Delaware )
Joanne Grant (University of Newcastle )
Napier 209
Start time:
14 December, 2017 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Extreme experiences can compel intervention from State and other bureaucracies that can misrepresent or misinterpret personal experiences by distorting individual subjectivity through objective parameters. This panel invites discussion on how compliant States are produced, imposed, and experienced.

Long abstract:

Individual, lived states of being develop over time through an intersubjective relationship with equally evolving bureaucratic formations of the State. But they are rarely equal. States of being can be isolating and/or unifying, significantly effected by determinants such as gender, ethnicity, religiosity, sexual orientation, health status, geography and access to economic resources. As a result, health and wellbeing are heavily influenced, even regulated and policed in some circumstances, by State institutions. Even minor deviations or transgressions from these systems and established practices can be treated harshly through techniques of punishment, remediation or stigmatisation. This panel invites researchers to explore examples of institutional processes that necessitate compliance with State-imposed 'norms'. Where lived experience sits outside of these boundaries, how are individuals' responses forced to comply with bureaucratic systems that so often seem incommensurable with their subjective experiences? Recognising that both subjective states of being and bureaucratic institutions of the 'State' are heterogeneous, complex, and multi-faceted, in this panel we invite papers that consider the following questions: How do (automated, digital, performed, or document-based) bureaucratic systems effect subjective positions when extreme circumstances meet State intervention? What does it mean to be a subject-in-need within a system of support that objectifies? Where do public systems that prioritise equality act to perpetuate inequity? Ultimately, this panel considers how anthropologists can contribute to the development of productive iterative relationships between individuals and the State in ways that recognise personal subjectivities within bureaucratic processes that so often demand compliance and objectification.