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Good Bureaucrats and God. Or, the Ethical Labor of the Public

Good Bureaucrats and God. Or, the Ethical Labor of the Public

Maira Hayat
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Anthropology and the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
Date and Time: 
Monday, March 2, 2020 - 12:30
Location: 

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)

Abstract: 

The blurred distinction between the public and private, particularly in the Global South, has elicited extensive academic commentary. In this essay, I invert the usual order: the initial assumption of the public-private distinction. Instead, I examine how in particular bureaucratic spaces, the distinction is produced and to what ends. I do this by marshalling ethnographic evidence gathered during three years of fieldwork conducted with the Irrigation bureaucracy in Pakistan’s Punjab province – the country’s agricultural heartland, its most populous province, and home to the world’s largest contiguous irrigation network. While popular understandings of bureaucracy conceptualize it as a foil to democratic, ethical and legal enterprise, I show bureaucratic activity to be a form of ethical laboring. Working through my interlocutors’ attempts at being ‘good Muslims,’ I show how the pursuit of ‘private’ considerations furthers logics of the public.

 

Bio: 

Dr. Maira Hayat is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Anthropology and the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.