Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Association for the Anthropology of Policy
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Policy
Secondary Theme: The Political
Unrecognized states dot a globe that is imagined in terms of bounded states. Some unrecognized states came into being after unilaterally declaring independence, others exist as nation-states in the imaginations of their members. Some of these entities meet recognized criteria for statehood, such as Weber’s definition centering on the monopoly of legitimate violence or the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States which notes that the state as an international person should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with other states. Where unrecognized states are ruled out of play in the global game is often on the final point—they cannot enter into relations with other states because the policies of those states do not imagine them to be states. Anthropology’s changing conceptualizations, or imaginings, of culture have also played a role in the recognition or rights of states. The right to self-determination in many international conventions is based on an earlier primordial model that anthropologists themselves no longer employ.
Here we explore dynamics of policymaking and evolution—political, social and cultural—in unrecognized states, dynamics of international policies which prevent their recognition, and the strategies of individual and group actors in these unrecognized entities. The cases we deal with differ from most anthropological studies in that they focus on an institutionalized state as an object of desire, in contrast to an authority to be opposed with stratagems from violence to rhetoric, business to religion. These opposed states are, of course, the obverse of the coin of the realm for most unrecognized states, they are states with more power or stronger networks, successful in exerting their claim to sovereignty. Our aim is to shift focus from the dominant and visible state which is allowed to play in the global statesmanship game, to the hopeful but excluded players. Our cases look at a range of strategies in a range of unrecognized states, with goals ranging from fully recognized sovereignty, through greater autonomy within federal systems, to freer cultural space in which to foster their cultural identity. We also consider what roles anthropology has or can play in the recognition of states, the rights of their citizens, and documenting the impact of non-recognition. Finally, we consider the role different understandings of what states are may play in global politics, and how study of unrecognized states may further our understanding of what these entities we call states are.