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SASC Colloquium: Good Bureaucrats and God: The Ethical Labor of the Public
Bureaucracies tend to feature in political and social theory as sites of structural violence, patriarchy, sovereign excess, or foils to an ethical enterprise. This talk, however, argues for the unique importance of studying bureaucracy as a site of ethical laboring. Tracing the specific, surprising, and sophisticated ways in which God participates in everyday bureaucratic practice in an Irrigation Department in Pakistan shows how bureaucrats’ attempts to be “good Muslims” can produce “good bureaucrats.” The yield is a deeper understanding of how state officials experience and navigate the pull of the ‘private’ in everyday ‘public’ work, and how this, in turn, determines the service they provide. In foregrounding ethical laboring, the talk brings together the anthropology of bureaucracy, state, and secularity towards newer configurations.

Speaker: Maira Hayat

Nov 4, 2021 04:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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