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Introduction: remaking the public good: a new anthropology of bureaucracy

Bear, Laura and Mathur, Nayanika (2015) Introduction: remaking the public good: a new anthropology of bureaucracy. Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, 33 (1). pp. 18-34. ISSN 0305-7674

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Identification Number: 10.3167/ca.2015.330103


In this introductory article, we call for a new anthropology of bureaucracy focused on ‘the public good’. We aim to recapture this concept from its classic setting within the discipline of economics. We argue that such a move is particularly important now because new public goods – of transparency, fiscal discipline and decentralization – are being pressed into the service of states and transnational organizations: it has therefore become critical to focus on their techniques, effects and affects through fine-grained ethnography that challenges the economization of the political. We demonstrate our approach through some ethnographic findings from different parts of India. These show how fiscal austerity leads to new limited social contracts and precarious intimacies with the post-liberalization Indian state. This relationship between new public goods and forms of precarious citizenship is then further illuminated by the six articles that follow in this special issue.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 06 May 2015 12:56
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2021 23:13

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