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Government of Paper

The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan

Matthew S. Hull

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University of California Press img Link Publisher

Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Pädagogik

Beschreibung

In the electronic age, documents appear to have escaped their paper confinement. But we are still surrounded by flows of paper with enormous consequences. In the planned city of Islamabad, order and disorder are produced through the ceaseless inscription and circulation of millions of paper artifacts among bureaucrats, politicians, property owners, villagers, imams (prayer leaders), businessmen, and builders. What are the implications of such a thorough paper mediation of relationships among people, things, places, and purposes? Government of Paper explores this question in the routine yet unpredictable realm of the Pakistani urban bureaucracy, showing how the material forms of postcolonial bureaucratic documentation produce a distinctive political economy of paper that shapes how the city is constructed, regulated, and inhabited. Files, maps, petitions, and visiting cards constitute the enduring material infrastructure of more ephemeral classifications, laws, and institutional organizations. Matthew S. Hull develops a fresh approach to state governance as a material practice, explaining why writing practices designed during the colonial era to isolate the government from society have become a means of participation in it.

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Schlagwörter

bureaucrats, colonial era, pakistan, middle east scholars, urban landscape, politicians, villagers, nonfiction, paper documents, businessmen, islamabad, imams, paper artifacts, bureaucratic documentation, material infrastructure, materials, political economy, postcolonialism, property owners, urbanism, builders, modern pakistan, social science, middle east, urban bureaucracy, paper mediation, bureaucracy, state government, contemporary history, legal anthropology