Publications 2022

Thelen, Tatjana and Lammer, Christof, eds. Measuring Kinship: Gradual Belonging and Thresholds of Exclusion.

= Special Issue of Social Analysis 65 (4).

Widespread procedures to measure what is taken to be kinship condition negotiations of various forms of belonging (family, ethnicity, nation, race, and even humanity). Kinship measurements require indicators, evidence, and persuasive display to become institutionalized. This introduction shows these measurements’ generative force, which enables their translation into differentiated access to resources. Kinship measurements pull together different and sometimes contrasting ideas, practices, and materialities. Different measurements can add up, mutually reinforcing each other, and reach thresholds for inclusion or exclusion. Yet most often they remain contested, produce gradual results, and do not achieve closure. Grouping them together as assessments of closeness or similarity, we explore the productivity of kinship measurements in diverse settings, such as medicine, bureaucracy, and ritual, to demonstrate how they shape inequalities and marginalizations.

Tatjana Thelen and Christof Lammer

Persch, Marlene. Der sorgende Staat? Sorgenarrative im Jugendgefängnis in Accra, Ghana.

= Vienna Working Papers in Ethnography no. 13.

Das Arbeitspapier zeigt Aushandlungsprozesse von GefängnisoffizierInnen zwischen Sorge als persönliches Engagement und als Teil der Berufsanforderung in einem Jugendgefängnis in Ghana auf. Über wiederkehrende Erzählungen verorten OffizierInnen sich und ihre Arbeit im Gefängnis und dabei auch gegenüber “dem” Staat. Anhand von verschiedenen Sorgenarrativen zeichne ich die Produktion von Staatlichkeit durch das Gefängnispersonal nach, die von Ambivalenzen in der Zuschreibung eines wohlfahrtsstaatlichen Charakters des Gefängnisses geprägt ist. Durch die (Un)Sichtbarmachung staatlicher Aspekte (re-)produzieren OffizierInnen ihre Praktiken als Teil eines sorgenden Staates, der jedoch nicht immer von allen Beteiligten als sorgend empfunden wird. Im Zentrum des Beitrags stehen ambivalente und teils widersprüchliche Staatsverständnisse, die in den Interaktionen zwischen staatlichen AkteurInnen sichtbar werden.

Marlene Persch

Grabmaier, Ilona. Negotiating the Limits of Care. Moralised Constructions of (Un)Deservingness in Rural Ukraine.

= Vienna Working Papers in Ethnography no. 12.

This Working Paper discusses moralised distribution of care and social assistance for senior citizens in the context of female migration from rural Ukraine. I suggest that the ability to mobilise care during old age depends to a large degree on moral views about deservingness. While reciprocity is at the heart of practices that maintain different forms of relatedness, it is primarily idealised concepts of self-sufficiency that corroborate local judgements and discourses of (un)deservingness. Care by kin, friends and neighbours and care by the state are both shaped by the same moral understandings of how care and support are provided for the elderly. Although often presented as separate domains, state/institutional and ‘private’/kin care are inevitably interwoven and even mutually reinforce each other. By uncovering moral hierarchies of (un)deservingness, this Working Paper shows how poverty is moralised and ultimately attributed to individual failure. I argue that by portraying poverty as self-inflicted, disregard for someone’s neediness can be depicted as morally proper conduct that obstructs neither the realisation of the moral self nor the maintenance of the ideal of (unconditional) mutual support and social cohesion.

Ilona Grabmaier

Ugarte, Sofía. Desired Formality. Labor migration, black markets, and the state in Chile.

Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

Formal work is essential to gain legal residence in Chile and the reason why Latin American and Caribbean migrants purchase fake contracts on the black market. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with migrant Haitian women applying for work visas in Santiago, this article explores the effects of desired formality and its promises of a good life on contemporary statehood in Chile. The analysis shows how Haitian women’s eff orts to become formal workers transform their experiences as racialized and gendered migrants in Chile, and impact how state institutions manage and control migration. Desired formality reveals the paradoxical character of state policies that help create a racialized and precarious labor force within its legal frameworks and explain why migrants attach themselves to fragile good-life projects in new countries.

Sofía Ugarte

Ugarte, Sofía. Skilling Race. Affective labor and “white” pedagogies in the Chilean service economy.

American Anthropologist:

This article examines the effects of racialization practices in quotidian encounters between migrant Haitian women looking for work and Chilean recruiters in job interviews and skills-training programs in Santiago. Drawing on ethnographic research, I show how racialized differences are made material and emotional based on a particular history of white supremacy and mestizaje. I argue that to become appropriate and hirable workers in the service economy, Haitian women transform their appearance, movements, feelings, and attitudes according to white pedagogies of affective labor. I show how the skilling of labor performed through these pedagogies is deeply affective, shaping Haitian women’s sense of worth and their self-constitution as migrants beyond labor encounters. The analysis of how anti-Black racism toward migrant women perpetuates local manifestations of white-mestizo privilege reveals how affective labor and racialization practices articulate intimate experiences of transnational mobility with intersectional scripts of power.

Sofía Ugarte

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