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Anthropology in the Margins of the State

Veena Das (Editor) Deborah Poole (Editor)
Synopsis The form and reach of the modern state are changing radically under the pressure of globalization. Featuring ten leading scholars in the field, this volume assesses perceptions of power in three regions where state reform and violence have been particularly dramatic: South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Rather than a geographic border, the term 'margin' here describes areas far from the centres of state sovereignty where states are unable to ensure implementation of their programmes and policies. The book tries to understand how people perceive and experience the agency of the state; who is of, and not of, the state; and how practices at the margins shape the state itself. This emphasis on the 'margins' of the state that are not peripheral but, in fact, highly crucial to its everyday functioning is the most innovative aspect of this volume. Instead of looking at the state as a distinct and distant entity, the essays highlight the ubiquitous transgressions of formal models that take place almost daily in any state organization. The essays are based on fieldwork in India, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Peru, Guatemala, Chad, Colombia, and South Africa. The contributors examine official documentary practices and their forms and falsifications; the problems that highly mobile mercenaries, currency, goods, arms, and diamonds pose to the state; emerging non-state regulatory authorities; and the role language plays as cultures struggle to articulate their situation. Dealing with widely debated and contentious issues, this book will find a wide audience among anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, policy-makers, journalists and the lay reader.
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About the author

Veena Das

Veena Das is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of anthropology at the Johns Hopkiins University, Baltimore, United States of America. Her publicatioins include Structure and Cognition: Aspects of Hindu Caste and Ritual (OUP, 1992), Critical Events: An anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India (OUP, 1996). Professor Das also edited the Oxford India Companion to Sociology and Social Anthropology (OUP, 2003).

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Bibliographic information

Title Anthropology in the Margins of the State
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2004
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195668936
length viii+332p., References; Index; 22cm.