Contemporary Governscapes: Sovereign Practice and Hybrid Orders Beyond the Center

  • Finn Stepputat
Part of the Governance and Limited Statehood Series book series (GLS)


When large political events, such as the current transformations in the Middle East, take researchers and analysts by surprise it may be because they represent entirely new and surprising phenomena. But it could also be because the analytical lenses and conceptual frameworks of political and social analysis have not helped us ‘see’ and understand what was in the making before the events erupted onto the international news agenda. As the editors of this volume suggest, the current events in the Middle East encourage us to look beyond national capitals and visible centers of formal political power to include and analyze areas and institutions where the presence of the state is limited, highly contested, or intertwined with forms of power and governance that are at odds with the Weberian ideals of state and bureaucracy. But, in order to better understand what is going on in such areas and institutions, we may also have to question the ontological ground of our analytical framework, a framework which grosso modo takes the sovereignty of the territorial state for granted and the state itself as a willful and almost personalized entity localized somewhere over and above society from where its power is projected (‘downwards’ and ‘outwards’) onto society to enframe and subject its territory and the populations living within the national borders.


State Formation Asylum Seeker Political Community Shadow Economy Territorial State 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrams, P. (1988) ‘Notes on the Difficulty of Studying the State’, Journal of Historical Sociology, 1, 58–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agamben, G. (1998) Homo Sacer — Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).Google Scholar
  3. Agamben, G. (2005) State of Exception (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Appadurai, A. (1990) ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’, Public Culture, 2, (2), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Asad, T. (1993) Genealogies of Religion — Discipline and Reason of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
  6. Bataille, G. (1991) The Accursed Share (New York: Zone Books).Google Scholar
  7. Boege, V., A. Brown, K. Clements and A. Nolan (eds.) (2009) ‘On Hybrid Political Orders and Emerging States: What Is Failing — States in the Global South or Research and Politics in the West?’ in M. Fischer and B. Schmelzle (eds.) Building Peace in the Absence of States — Challenging the Discourse on State Failure, Berghof Handbook Dialogue No. 8 (Berlin: Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management), pp.15–35.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1994) ‘Rethinking the State — Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field’, Sociological Theory, 12, (1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chatterjee, P. (2004) The Politics of the Governed — Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
  10. Corrigan, P. and D. Sayer (1985) The Great Arch — English State Formation as Cultural Revolution (Oxford: Basil Blackwell).Google Scholar
  11. Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari (2008 [1980]) A Thousand Plateaus (London: Continuum).Google Scholar
  12. Elias, N. (1994) The Civilizing Process — The History of Manners and State Formation and Civilization (Oxford: Blackwell).Google Scholar
  13. Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish — The Birth of the Prison (Harmondsworth: Penguin).Google Scholar
  14. Foucault, M. (1984) ‘Space, Knowledge and Power’ in P. Rabinow (ed.) The Foucault Reader (Harmondsworth: Penguin), pp. 239–256.Google Scholar
  15. Foucault, M. (1991) ‘Governmentality’ in G. Burchell, C. Gordon and P. Miller (eds.) The Foucault Effect — Studies in Governmentality (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf), pp. 87–104.Google Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (2003) Society Must Be Defended (Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–76) (New York: Picador).Google Scholar
  17. Giddens, A. (1985) The Nation-State and Violence (Cambridge: Polity Press).Google Scholar
  18. Gupta, A. (1995) ‘Blurred Boundaries — The Discourse of Corruption, the Culture of Politics, and the Imagined State’, American Ethnologist, 22, (2), 375–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hagmann, T. and D. Péclard (2009) ‘Negotiating Statehood — Dynamics of Power and Domination in Africa’, Development and Change, 41, (1), 539–562.Google Scholar
  20. Hannerz, U. (2002) Flows, Boundaries and Hybrids — Keywords in Transnational Anthropology, Working Paper Series (Stockholm: Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University).Google Scholar
  21. Hansen, T. B. and F. Stepputat (eds.) (2001) States of Imagination — Ethnographic Explorations of the Post-Colonial State (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hansen, T. B. and F. Stepputat (eds.) (2005) Sovereign Bodies — Citizens, Migrants and States in the Post-Colonial World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  23. Hansen, T. B. and F. Stepputat (2006) ‘Sovereignty Revisited’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 35, 295–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Humphrey, C. (2004) ‘Sovereignty’ in D. Nugent and J. Vincent (eds.) A Companion to the Anthropology of Politics (Oxford: Blackwell), pp. 418–436.Google Scholar
  25. Huysmans, J. (2008) ‘The Jargon of Exception – on Schmitt, Agamben and the Absence of Political Society’, International Political Society, 2, 165–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jackson, R. (1990) Quasi-States — Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  27. Jennings, R. C. (2011) ‘Sovereignty and Political Modernity — A Genealogy of Agamben’s Critique of Sovereignty’, Anthropological Theory, 11, (1), 23–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kapferer, B. and B. E. Bertelsen (2009) The Crisis of Power and Reformations of the State in Globalizing Realities, Crisis of the State, War and Social Upheaval (Oxford: Berghahn Books).Google Scholar
  29. Krasner, S. (1999) Sovereignty — Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  30. Kratochwill, F. (1986) ‘Of Systems, Boundaries and Territoriality’, World Politics, 34, (1), 753–775.Google Scholar
  31. Krohn-Hansen, C. and K. Nustadt (eds.) (2005) State Formation — Anthropological Perspectives (London: Pluto Press).Google Scholar
  32. Latour, B. (1986) ‘The Powers of Association’ in J. Law (ed.) Power, Action and Belief — A New Sociology of Knowledge (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  33. Lefebvre, H. (1991 [1974]) The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers).Google Scholar
  34. Li, T. M. (2005) ‘Beyond “the State” and Failed Schemes’, American Anthropologist, 107, (3), 383–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mann, M. (1988) States, War and Capitalism — Studies in Political Sociology (Oxford: Basil Blackwell).Google Scholar
  36. Mbembe, A. (2001) On the Postcolony (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press).Google Scholar
  37. Mbembe, A. (2003) ‘Necropolitics’, Public Culture, 15 (1), 11–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mitchell, T. (1999) ‘Economy and The State Effect’ in G. Steinmetz (ed.) State/Culture — State Formation after the Cultural Turn (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press), pp. 76–97.Google Scholar
  39. Nugent, D. (1994) ‘Building the State, Making the Nation — The Bases and Limits of State Centralization in “Modern” Peru’, American Anthropologist, 96, (2), 333–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nugent, D. (1997) Modernity at the Edge of Empire — State, Individual, and Nation in the Northern Peruvian Andes 1885–1935 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).Google Scholar
  41. Radcliffe-Brown, A. (1955 [1940]) ‘Preface’ in M. Fortes and E. E. Evans-Pritchard (eds.) African Political Systems (London: Oxford University Press), pp. xi–xxiii.Google Scholar
  42. Rosaldo, R. (2005) ‘Foreword’ in N. C. Canclini (ed.) Hybrid Cultures — Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press), pp. xi–xvii.Google Scholar
  43. Ruggie, J. G. (1993) ‘Territoriality and Beyond — Problematizing Modernity in International Relations’, International Organization, 47, (1), 139–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sahlins, P. (1989) Boundaries — The Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press).Google Scholar
  45. Schmitt, C. (1985 [1922]) Political Theology — Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (Boston, MA: MIT Press).Google Scholar
  46. Scott, J. C. (1998) Seeing Like a State — How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).Google Scholar
  47. Sharma, A. and A. Gupta (2006) The Anthropology of the State — A Reader (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing).Google Scholar
  48. Steinmetz, G. (ed.) (1999) State Culture — The Study of State Formation after the Cultural Turn (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press).Google Scholar
  49. Stepputat, F. (2009) ‘Postscript: Home, Fragility and Irregulation — Reflections on Ethnographies of Im/mobility’ in S. Jansen and S. Löfving (eds.) Struggles for Home — Violence, Hope and Movement of People (Oxford: Berghahn), pp. 173–182.Google Scholar
  50. von Trotha, T. (2009) ‘The “Andersen Principle” — On the Difficulty of Truly Moving beyond State-Centrism’ in M. Fischer and B. Schmelzle (eds.) Building Peace in the Absence of States — Challenging the Discourse on State Failure, Berghof Handbook Dialogue No. 8 (Berlin: Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management), pp. 37–46.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Finn Stepputat 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Finn Stepputat

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations