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Seeking the State: Appropriating Bureaucratic Symbolism and Wealth in the Margins of Southeast Asia
journal contributionposted on 14.12.2021, 23:10 by Nicholas HerrimanNicholas Herriman, Monika WinarnitaMonika Winarnita
Anthropological research on Southeast Asian states has contributed to understanding how local communities engage with states in their everyday lives. Two approaches drawing out the complexities of state-society entanglement stand out. First is Foucault's idea that states possess the art-of-government. Through techniques such as mapping, census data, biometrics and so on, states are believed to achieve new levels of control over people, who are thus rendered as individual citizens. Second is Scott's idea that societies possess the art-of-not-being-governed. People, particularly in peripheral areas, seek to escape state control, for instance by sheltering in the hills and forests of Asia. In this article, we seek to identify and expand upon a literature which we see as emerging from the space opened between Foucault and Scott's work, to demonstrate the many creative and diverse ways that peripheral societies seek out states. In doing this we present a synthesis of diverse forms of entanglement to provide new insights into understanding relations between societies and states.