State, Care, Inequalities | Tatjana Thelen

State, Care, Inequalities

The deep entanglement between state and care forms the centre of my empirical research. Although I started my academic career studying property, fieldwork in post-socialist Hungary and Romania soon led me to explore the role of care in processes of political transformation. This led to further research in eastern Ger­many on relations of care in and around a former large socialist enterprise. While care is often seen as something positively, I stress its counterintuitive effects in stabilising hierarchies and marginalisation. Care also often functions as a kind of boundary object, specifically in crossing and demarcating the boundary between kinship and state. Often dealt with separately, as representing either ‘modern’ or ‘traditional’ forms of social organisation, I demonstrate that both develop in tandem, a process that is me­diated through care by assumptions of deservingness and by assignment of responsibility and access to resources. More recently I became interested in the historical development of knowledge production of these notions, and their linkages to policy development. Another recent focal point of my research is the investigation of how ideas about the measurability and decline of kinship feed into state politics, research and processes of marginalisation through care.  New technologies of measuring ‘proper’ kinship as descent (like paternity and genomic testing) become structurally important if translated into legal obligations and rights to care.

Tatjana Thelen

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