Plenarveranstaltung II / Plenary session II: Bureaucratic closings - Bureaucratic openings

"Case closed: Oral Self-presentation in a Law of Writing"

Sprecher / Speaker:

Matthew Hull (University of Michigan, USA)

Characterized  by  standardization  and  protocol,  bureaucracy  is  a  universalizing  technology.  Its universalizing nature manifests also in its spread, encroaching endlessly through “mission creep” into new territories. In this address, I consider an empirical question about bureaucratic openings and closures: Where is bureaucracy, and where is it not? I focus on the proliferating but tenuous bureaucratic  network  extending  across  the  grazing  lands  of  Lesotho,  the  mountainous  nation surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho’s landscapes are infamously  degraded,  and  countless conservation  projects  have  sought  to  rehabilitate  them.  Such  projects  invariably  lament  the alleged failures of “traditional” institutions and generate new bureaucratic forms, complete with their own spatial and temporal protocols. As funding and other resources dissipate, these forms go into a dormant state, but can be quickly revived when new resources arrive. Examining specific rangeland interventions, I show ethnographically how they manage to articulate with the space-times of Lesotho’s grazing lands and an existing bureaucratic ecology. Bureaucratic power, I argue, is defined by its patchyand contingent space-times.

Datum: Montag, 30. September 2019