Shifting States : New Perspectives on Security, Infrastructure, and Political Affect book cover
1st Edition

Shifting States
New Perspectives on Security, Infrastructure, and Political Affect

ISBN 9781350125575
Published December 30, 2020 by Routledge
234 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Shifting States draws on a rich history of anthropological theorising on all kinds of states – from the pre- to the post- industrial – and explores topics as diverse as bureaucracy, infrastructure, surveillance, securitization, and public health.

As we enter the third decade of the twentieth century, there is a growing sense that ‘the state’ is in crisis everywhere. Although the nature of this perceived crisis varies from place to place, everywhere it is seen to have been caused by some combination of the inter-related forces of ‘globalisation’, of successive economic shocks, and of the rise of social media-fuelled populist movements. Yet, conversely, there is also a creeping perception that state power is becoming more pervasive in its reach, and in its effects, in ways which make it ever more imminent to the material worlds in which we live, more fundamental to the ways in which we conceive of the future, and more foundational to our very sense of self. How might we try to make sense of, and to mediate, these apparently contradictory impressions?

Based on ethnographic case studies from all over the world, this timely volume forges new ways of thinking about how state power manifests, and is imagined, and about the effects it has on ordinary people’s lives. In so doing, the volume provides tools not only for understanding states’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also for judging what effects these responses are likely to have.

Table of Contents


Part I: Ethnographies of Infrastructure: Assemblage, Experimentation, and Mobilization

1. Contingent statecraft: infrastructures, political creativity, and experimentation 

Penny Harvey

2. Materialising the state: the meaning of water infrastructure

Veronica Strang

3. Driving into the nation-state: driving, roads, and selfhood in a post-socialist milieu

Andrew Dawson 

4. State of the grain: grain of the state: the political- and moral-economy of rice in Indonesia

Graeme MacRae and Thomas Reuter 

Part II: Dialectics of Security, Surveillance and Struggle

5. Indigenous social policy, settler colonial dependencies, and toxic lingerings: living through mining and militarism in the Anthropocene

Tess Lea

6. Awkward biculturalism: embodying ambiguity in New Zealand Army haka

Nina Harding

7. Fear of a free lunch: markets, publics, and the would-be gift

David Boarder Giles

Part III: Sensory States, and their Contingent Citizenries

8. Intimate tonguing: the governance of the tongue in smokefree Australia

Simone Dennis

9. Sensing late-liberal state failure: ecologies of resistance in a post-industrial German city

Felix Ringel

10. Dialysis in the desert: blood, biomedial technologies, and transformation in Central Australia

Henrietta Byrne

11. 'Looking for a nice face': shifting states of marriage and intimate citizenship in Papua New Guinea

Alison Dundon

12. The state of silence as sensory and social: towards an anthropological appreciation

Nigel Rapport

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Alison Dundon is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

Richard Vokes is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia.