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Bureaucratic Rationalities
CHUM 330
Spring 2011
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: ANTH 330

State corruption, all over the world, is constantly remarked upon but also considered unremarkable precisely because it is so common. That bureaucratic institutions do not work in the rationalized Weberian sense is known by all, but the ideal of a perfect bureaucracy is still held dear. It is almost as though each act of corruption, precisely because it is seen as an aberration, renews our faith in the essentially noncorrupt nature of bureaucratic organizations. Indeed, bureaucracy is idealized by many as the epitome of rationality. This course seeks to shake our commonsensical faith in bureaucratic rationality, to make the sacred profane, so to speak. It takes an interdisciplinary anthropological and feminist look at the "culture of bureaucratic rationality" as a shifting, complex, performative set of values, practices, apparatuses, and artifacts; we will examine each in turn. How do feminists make sense of the hierarchical nature of bureaucratic power and what alternatives do they imagine? How do anthropologists approach banal bureaucratic documents, like files and passports, as cultural artifacts that tell us something about bureaucratic reason and cultural ethos, and the kinds of representational and material worlds these artifacts create? Indeed, if bureaucratic rationality is a particular way of being in, seeing, and organizing the world, then how do we disentangle bureaucracy from state identity? How can we make our analytical framework extend into the arenas of nongovernmental organizations, financial institutions, the market, and civil society? These are the sorts of questions we will ask and analyze.

Essential Capabilities: None
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS CHUM
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ANTH)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on DEC-04-2022
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