Virtual Edition on Bureaucracy and Tactics

New Directions for the Ethnographic Study of Bureaucracies: Tactics, Affects, and Ethics

Compiled, Commissioned, and Edited by Monika Lemke

This virtual edition presents PoLAR articles on the ethnography of bureaucracy, postscripts and interviews with select authors, and original pieces on new research directions. Curated by PoLAR Digital Editorial Fellow Monika Lemke, this virtual edition begins with Lemke’s introduction that considers the field and future directions. The virtual edition features twelve articles published in PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, four author interviews, and four original essays. This collection extends analysis of the everyday life of bureaucracy and Michel de Certeau’s examination of tactics, as well as the ethical, sensory, and affective dimensions of state-citizen bureaucratic encounters.

The twelve original articles published in PoLAR are free to access until February 19, 2022.


New Directions for the Ethnographic Study of Bureaucracies: Tactics, Affects, and Ethics

Monika Lemke

Interviews and Articles

Revisiting “Transparency Short-Circuited”: A Conversation with Andrea Ballestero

Andrea Ballestero and Monika Lemke 


Transparency Short-Circuited: Laughter and Numbers in Costa Rican Water Politics

Andrea Ballestero
Volume 35, Issue 2, November 2021


Tactics Contra Bureaucracies:  A Conversation with Kregg Hetherington

Kregg Hetherington and Monika Lemke


Living Bureaucracies, Temporality, Complicity, Diversity: A Conversation with Colin Hoag

Colin Hoag and Monika Lemke


Assembling Partial Perspectives: Thoughts on the Anthropology of Bureaucracy

Colin Hoag
Volume 34, Issue 1, May 2011


The Magic of the Populace: An Ethnography of Illegibility in the South African Immigration Bureaucracy

Colin Hoag
Volume 33, Issue 1, May 2010


Revisiting “Bureaucratizing Sensitivity”:  A Conversation with Julia Kowalski

Julia Kowalski and Monika Lemke


Bureaucratizing Sensitivity: Documents and Expertise in North Indian Antiviolence Counseling

Julia Kowalski
Volume 41, Issue 1, May 2018


Postscripts, Essays, and Original Articles

Bordering in Crisis, the Exception and Lived Realities

Kalpana Jha


Inevitable Tacticians: Jewish Conversion Teachers in the Face of Institutional Awkwardness

Michal Kravel-Tovi


Shouldering the Weight of the State: Religious Zionist Citizenship, National Responsibility, and Jewish Conversion in Israel

Michal Kravel-Tovi
Volume 41, Supplement 1, September 2018


State Sensorium: Rethinking the Role of Senses and Affects in Street-Level Bureaucrats’ Discretion

Julia Leser

The Awakening of a Bureaucratic Rube: Cultivating Strategic Compliance

Erica Weiss


Best Practices for Besting the Bureaucracy: Avoiding Military Service in Israel

Erica Weiss
Volume 39, Issue 1, September 2016

Additional PoLAR Articles

Introduction to Bureaucracy: Ethnography of the State in Everyday Life

Anya Bernstein and Elizabeth Mertz
Volume 34, Issue 1, May 2011


The Governance of Things: Documenting Limbo in the Greek Asylum Procedure

Heath Cabot
Volume 35, Issue 1, May 2012


Transparent-Making Documents and the Crisis of Implementation: A Rural Employment Law and Development Bureaucracy in India

Mathur, Nayanika
Volume 35, Issue 2, November 2012


‘Rotten Row Is Rotten to the Core’: The Material and Sensory Politics of Harare’s Magistrates’ Courts after 2000

Susanne Verheul
Volume 43, Issue 2, November 2020


Making Populations for Deportation: Bureaucratic Knowledge Practices Inside a European Deportation Unit

L.M. Wissink
Volume 44, Issue 2, November 2021


Suspicious Citizenship, Bureaucratic Coordination, and the Deportation of Cambodian American Refugees

Jennifer A. Zelnick
Volume 44, Issue 2, November 2021









Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s