Matters of State: Bureaucracy, Procedure, and Power in South Asia
How does ‘the state’ generate material force in everyday life? Over the last four decades, scholars of South Asia have invigorated theorization of the state by resituating Eurocentric accounts in an imperial and postcolonial frame. In recent years, scholars have foregrounded the materiality of state-making by examining the bureaucratic circulation of archival records, minoritized subjects’ encounters with law, the remaking of bodily norms through colonial institutions, transnational flows of aid and expertise, and interplays of routine and exception in governance. “Matters of State” will bring together scholarship that builds on these exciting, interdisciplinary approaches to conceptualize the paradoxes of state power in South Asia. How do states simultaneously inspire with their grandeur, terrify with their authority, and frustrate and bore with their paper-generating procedures? The eighth annual Princeton conference invites applicants to engage with the materiality of statecraft in South Asia past and present.
The conference will bring together early career scholars — advanced graduate students (post-exams), recent PhDs, and junior faculty (less than 3 years since PhD completion) — from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. We invite papers that examine South Asia in a broad sense, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Nepal, the Maldives, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar or Burma, India, and transnational and diasporic spaces.
Papers might address these and other themes:
- Technocracy and Tradition
- Caste, Sexuality, and State-Making
- Exception and Emergency
- Affects and Archives
- State Welfare and Violence
- Reason, Religion, and Rule
- Authority and Accountability
- Infrastructure and Environment