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Dead zones of the imagination: on violence, bureaucracy, and interpretive labor. The 2006 Malinowski Memorial Lecture.

Graeber, David (2012) Dead zones of the imagination: on violence, bureaucracy, and interpretive labor. The 2006 Malinowski Memorial Lecture. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 2 (2). pp. 105-128. ISSN 2049-1115

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Abstract

The experience of bureaucratic incompetence, confusion, and its ability to cause otherwise intelligent people to behave outright foolishly, opens up a series of questions about the nature of power or, more specifically, structural violence. The unique qualities of violence as a form of action means that human relations ultimately founded on violence create lopsided structures of the imagination, where the responsibility to do the interpretive labor required to allow the powerful to operate oblivious to much of what is going on around them, falls on the powerless, who thus tend to empathize with the powerful far more than the powerful do with them. The bureaucratic imposition of simple categorical schemes on the world is a way of managing the fundamental stupidity of such situations. In the hands of social theorists, such simplified schemas can be sources of insight; when enforced through structures of coercion, they tend to have precisely the opposite effect.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.haujournal.org/
Additional Information: © 2012 The Author
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2013 14:54
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2019 01:00
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/53222

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