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Palgrave Macmillan

Governing Cultures

Anthropological Perspectives on Political Labor, Power, and Government

ISBN 9781137009234
Publication Date September 2012
Formats Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) Hardcover 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Governments are formal political institutions, places of work for thousands of women and men, and powerful social, cultural, and economic sites that shape the lives of all people. This collection demonstrates how anthropologists enrich our understandings of government by exploring the labor of those who govern, and how the dynamics of culture are at the heart of government actions that justify, modify, and reproduce political action. By assembling original, ethnographically-grounded research in legislatures, executives, and bureaucracies, this volume illuminates and unpacks the structures, practices, and values of government actors in local, regional, and national contexts. It will be of interest to scholars and students in anthropology, as well as sociology, political science, policy studies, and labor studies.

Kendra Coulter is Assistant Professor in the Centre for Labour Studies at Brock University, Canada.

William R. Schumann is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, USA.

Government Matters: Intellectual Labor and the Work of Governing; K.Coulter & W.R.Schumann
Navigating the Illegible State: Governmentality and Political Process; T.A.Schwegler
A Project of Governing and its Contradictions: Maternal-Infant Care in Highland Ecuador; K.Clark
Governing Beef: Program Implementation, Unintended Consequences and BSE Control in Alberta; A.Smart & J.Smart
Selling Clear Red Water: The Identity Politics of Governing in the National Assembly for Wales; W.R.Schumann
Legislative Authenticity and the Politics of Recognition: Being a Māori Member of the New Zealand Parliament; I.Gershon
Gendering Government: Political Labor and the Production of Policy and Political Culture; K.Coulter
The Work of Being Governed: From the Welfare State to the 'Big Society' in Britain; S.B.Hyatt
The Will To End Hunger in the Age of Security: Food Security, National Security and Community-Based Food Security in the United States; D.V.Fazzino II
The Work of Governing; J.Clarke

KIM CLARK University of Western Ontario, Canada
JOHN CLARKE The Open University
DAVID FAZZINO University of Alaska at Fairbanks, USA
ILANA GERSHON Indiana University, USA
SUSAN BRIN HYATT Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis, USA
TARA SCHWEGLER Independent scholar
ALAN SMART University of Calgary, Canada
JOSEPHINE SMART University of Calgary, Canada


"A groundbreaking collection of innovative studies of the complicated doing of governing, Governing Cultures is essential reading for anyone - in anthropology, sociology, geography, political science, or policy science - interested in productions and relations of labor, power, and meaning in government. Coulter and Schumann bring together analyses of the heterogeneous specificities of governing cultures and cultures of governing that together lay the theoretical and methodological foundations for a much needed new anthropology of government." - Catherine Kingfisher, professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Lethbridge
"This collection provides a fascinating exploration of the work of governing from an anthropological perspective. It presents a range of detailed ethnographic studies which engage with theories of governmentality and the state, and illustrates that the practice of governing is infinitely more contested than theoretical abstraction implies. The empirical focus is wide-ranging and international including discussions of food security, how governments and governing are gendered, the work involved in creating political identities for nations and states, and how indigenous peoples engage with processes of governing. It includes historical analyses as well as more contemporary ethnographic research and is an important contribution to our understanding of the process of government in all its messiness and complexity." - Nickie Charles, professor, Department of Sociology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, University of Warwick
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