Session 6

Faces and Phases of the State: Ethnographies from the Global South
Jakob Rigi (associate professor, Central European University – Budapest)
Raluca Pernes (doctoral student, University College London)


Ştefan Cibian: Beyond Statehood: Revealing Profound Inconsistencies between Western Approaches to Statehood and Sub-Saharan Africa Realities
PhD student, Central European University, Department of International Relations and European Studies

Elisabeth Schober: The Post-Garrison State. South Korea’s ‘Minjung’ Movement and US Influence on the Korean Peninsula
PhD student, Central European University, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Mariya Ivancheva: The Revolution can not be institutionalized: radical intellectuals, university reform, and state power in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
PhD student, Central European University, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Luisa Steur: “The Kerala path” to socialism: Following the trail
PhD student, Central European University, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Raluca Perneş: A Discreet Presence Does Not Make an Absence: State and Land Management in Ghana
PhD student, University College London


Cristina Aboboaie: Transnational terrorism and its implications to nation states institutions from the Global South
University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iași

Eugenia Udangiu and Diana Răduţ-Sălişte: Comparative perspective on community development methods used in rural areas by the priests from Romania and Norway
University of Craiova


Since Abrams’ noted the ‘difficulties of studying the state’ (1988), a growing number of studies attempted to bring the state into the focus of the social sciences. At the same time, there has been an increased urgency to understand processes of state formation and functioning beyond the horizons of the western world, where the notion of the nation state has been crafted over the last two centuries. This new orientation has been seen as significant not only for the academic research, but also because “individuals and institutions and social movements need a reasonable picture of meta-change that they can use to orient themselves, which requires empirical investigation and conceptual hard work” (Beck 2004).

This panel brings together a number of ethnographies from the Global South: a construction that designates the post-colonial space where democratization has been carried out in a top-down manner. We discuss various spatial incarnations and historical trajectories of states that do not live up to the definition with which western governments and international organizations have been operating. The papers present different – and often contrasting – narratives of the state as subjective experience of power ‘tracing its effects on territories, populations, and bodies’ (Aretxaga 2003).

Our aim is to start a conversation about new visions and versions of the nation states outside the ‘self-colonializing’ discourses of ‘dysfunctional’ states brought up during the Eastern European transitions. Bringing to relevance cases and contexts that usually escape the social analysis conducted in and about the region, we hope to offer fresh perspectives for comparative studies.

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