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Bureaucraft: Statemakers in Amman and Baghdad

Posted on 30 August 2023

New article by Dr José Ciro Martínez

José Ciro Martínez

Lecturer José Ciro Martínez has just published a new piece in Cultural Anthropologyone of the premier journals in the discipline. In the article, José Ciro Martínez and Omar Sirri illustrate how both bakers in Amman and soldiers in Baghdad are enrolled in bureaucratic assemblages, taming people, and things to make them congenial to the state effect through work that the authors describe as “bureaucraft.”


Bakers and soldiers strive to provide subsistence and security to the residents of Amman and Baghdad. Yet neither set of actors is involved in straightforward administrative work; they do not sit behind desks, and they rarely push paper. Their enrolment in bureaucratic assemblages and policy enactment takes on an altogether different hue. This article dissects the embodied dexterities deployed by bakers and soldiers as they carry out their jobs at bakeries and checkpoints dotted across the Jordanian and Iraqi capitals. Drawing on ethnographic work, we develop the concept of bureaucraft to analyse the variegated modes of labour without which citizens would lack for some of the most basic of public goods. Taming people and things to make them congenial to the state effect takes a great deal of shrewd manoeuvring. We strive to demonstrate that it requires craft.