Care and state: A theoretical approach and an example from the Hungarian countryside

Tatjana Thelen - Professor of Anthropology at University of Vienna
Mon January 30th 2023, 3:30 - 5:00pm
Event Sponsor
Department of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 50-51A (Colloquium Room) & Zoom


In many contemporary debates, care has been invoked to criticize the state, and to demand more support for citizens, families and communities. While politically effective, this use of care is theoretically problematic: it reproduces top-down images and scales that oppose ‘micro’ care practices to the encompassing ‘macro’ state. The first part of this talk presents a proposal for overcoming these binaries by exploring the coevolution of the state and its ‘others’ – most notably family/kinship, community and civil society – in negotiations of care. In the second part, I demonstrate some aspects of this approach using an example of marginalization in a Hungarian village. At the center of this exploration are ideals of parental care widely shared by state actors and other citizens. My ultimate aim is to invert the hierarchy and ask how care shapes state configurations.


This is a hybrid event. For Zoom information, please contact pdios54 [at]