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The state as subject

Political Power and Social Theory

ISBN: 978-0-76230-883-5, eISBN: 978-1-84950-154-5

Publication date: 15 November 2002


This essay applies post-structuralist insights to analysis of states by conceptualizing the state as a culturally and historically situated “subject.” Using anthropological and historical research on states and on Mexican politics, it demonstrates that the study of states requires examination of the cultures and internal fragmentation of states, as well as the local and regional trajectories of state actors and agencies. By “seeing and not seeing” the state as a bounded, purposeful actor, we can acknowledge the force and cohesiveness of states, while simultaneously recognizing the mixture of fragments and pieces, with their own histories, out of which states are constituted.


Rubin, J.W. (2002), "The state as subject", Davis, D.E. (Ed.) Political Power and Social Theory (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 107-131.



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