“One of the most profound and illuminating studies of this century to have been published in recent decades.”—John Gray, New York Times Book Review Hailed as “a magisterial critique of top-down social planning” by the New York Times, this essential work analyzes disasters from Russia to Tanzania to uncover why states so often fail—sometimes catastrophically—in grand efforts to engineer their society or their environment, and uncovers the conditions common to all such planning disasters. “Beautifully written, this book calls into sharp relief the nature of the world we now inhabit.”—New Yorker “A tour de force.”— Charles Tilly, Columbia University
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"One of the most profound and illuminating studies of this century to have been published in recent decades."--John Gray, New York Times Book Review Hailed as "a magisterial critique of top-down social planning" by the New York Times, this essential work analyzes disasters from Russia to Tanzania to uncover why states so often fail--sometimes catastrophically--in grand efforts to engineer their society or their environment, and uncovers the conditions common to all such planning disasters. "Beautifully written, this book calls into sharp relief the nature of the world we now inhabit."--New Yorker "A tour de force."-- Charles Tilly, Columbia University
James Scott taught us what's wrong with seeing like a state. Now, in his most accessible and personal book to date, the acclaimed social scientist makes the case for seeing like an anarchist. Inspired by the core anarchist faith in the possibilities of voluntary cooperation without hierarchy, Two Cheers for Anarchism is an engaging, high-spirited, and often very funny defense of an anarchist way of seeing--one that provides a unique and powerful perspective on everything from everyday social and political interactions to mass protests and revolutions. Through a wide-ranging series of memorable anecdotes and examples, the book describes an anarchist sensibility that celebrates the local knowledge, common sense, and creativity of ordinary people. The result is a kind of handbook on constructive anarchism that challenges us to radically reconsider the value of hierarchy in public and private life, from schools and workplaces to retirement homes and government itself. Beginning with what Scott calls "the law of anarchist calisthenics," an argument for law-breaking inspired by an East German pedestrian crossing, each chapter opens with a story that captures an essential anarchist truth. In the course of telling these stories, Scott touches on a wide variety of subjects: public disorder and riots, desertion, poaching, vernacular knowledge, assembly-line production, globalization, the petty bourgeoisie, school testing, playgrounds, and the practice of historical explanation. Far from a dogmatic manifesto, Two Cheers for Anarchism celebrates the anarchist confidence in the inventiveness and judgment of people who are free to exercise their creative and moral capacities.
To see like a city, rather than seeing like a state, is the key to understanding modern politics. In this book, Magnusson draws from theorists such as Weber, Wirth, Hayek, Jacobs, Sennett, and Foucault to articulate some of the ideas that we need to make sense of the city as a form of political order. Locally and globally, the city exists by virtue of complicated patterns of government and self-government, prompted by proximate diversity. A multiplicity of authorities in different registers is typical. Sovereignty, although often claimed, is infinitely deferred. What emerges by virtue of self-organization is not susceptible to control by any central authority, and so we are impelled to engage politically in a world that does not match our expectations of sovereignty. How then are we are to engage realistically and creatively? We have to begin from where we are if we are to understand the possibilities. Building on traditions of political and urban theory in order to advance a new interpretation of the role of cities/urbanism in contemporary political life, this work will be of great interest to scholars of political theory and urban theory, international relations theory and international relations.
"Play fool, to catch wise."--proverb of Jamaican slaves Confrontations between the powerless and powerful are laden with deception--the powerless feign deference and the powerful subtly assert their mastery. Peasants, serfs, untouchables, slaves, laborers, and prisoners are not free to speak their minds in the presence of power. These subordinate groups instead create a secret discourse that represents a critique of power spoken behind the backs of the dominant. At the same time, the powerful also develop a private dialogue about practices and goals of their rule that cannot be openly avowed. In this book, renowned social scientist James C. Scott offers a penetrating discussion both of the public roles played by the powerful and powerless and the mocking, vengeful tone they display off stage--what he terms their public and hidden transcripts. Using examples from the literature, history, and politics of cultures around the world, Scott examines the many guises this interaction has taken throughout history and the tensions and contradictions it reflects. Scott describes the ideological resistance of subordinate groups--their gossip, folktales, songs, jokes, and theater--their use of anonymity and ambiguity. He also analyzes how ruling elites attempt to convey an impression of hegemony through such devices as parades, state ceremony, and rituals of subordination and apology. Finally, he identifies--with quotations that range from the recollections of American slaves to those of Russian citizens during the beginnings of Gorbachev's glasnost campaign--the political electricity generated among oppressed groups when, for the first time, the hidden transcript is spoken directly and publicly in the face of power. His landmark work will revise our understanding of subordination, resistance, hegemony, folk culture, and the ideas behind revolt.
There are few movements more firmly associated with civil disobedience than the Civil Rights Movement. In the mainstream imagination, civil rights activists eschewed coercion, appealed to the majority's principles, and submitted willingly to legal punishment in order to demand necessary legislative reforms and facilitate the realization of core constitutional and democratic principles. Their fidelity to the spirit of the law, commitment to civility, and allegiance to American democracy set the normative standard for liberal philosophies of civil disobedience. This narrative offers the civil disobedience of the Civil Rights Movement as a moral exemplar: a blueprint for activists who seek transformative change and racial justice within the bounds of democracy. Yet in this book, Erin R. Pineda shows how it more often functions as a disciplining examplea means of scolding activists and quieting dissent. As Pineda argues, the familiar account of Civil Rights disobedience not only misremembers history; it also distorts our political judgments about how civil disobedience might fit into democratic politics. Seeing Like an Activist charts the emergence of this influential account of civil disobedience in the Civil Rights Movement, and demonstrates its reliance on a narrative about black protest that is itself entangled with white supremacy. Liberal political theorists whose work informed decades of scholarship saw civil disobedience "like a white state": taking for granted the legitimacy of the constitutional order, assuming as primary the ends of constitutional integrity and stability, centering the white citizen as the normative ideal, and figuring the problem of racial injustice as limited, exceptional, and all-but-already solved. Instead, this book "sees" civil disobedience from the perspective of an activist, showing the consequences for ideas about how civil disobedience ought to unfold in the present. Building on historical and archival evidence, Pineda shows how civil rights activists, in concert with anticolonial movements across the globe, turned to civil disobedience as a practice of decolonization in order to emancipate themselves and others, and in the process transform the racial order. Pineda recovers this powerful alternative account by adopting a different theoretical approach--one which sees activists as themselves engaged in the creative work of political theorizing.
From the acclaimed author and scholar James C. Scott, the compelling tale of Asian peoples who until recently have stemmed the vast tide of state-making to live at arm’s length from any organized state society For two thousand years the disparate groups that now reside in Zomia (a mountainous region the size of Europe that consists of portions of seven Asian countries) have fled the projects of the organized state societies that surround them—slavery, conscription, taxes, corvée labor, epidemics, and warfare. This book, essentially an “anarchist history,” is the first-ever examination of the huge literature on state-making whose author evaluates why people would deliberately and reactively remain stateless. Among the strategies employed by the people of Zomia to remain stateless are physical dispersion in rugged terrain; agricultural practices that enhance mobility; pliable ethnic identities; devotion to prophetic, millenarian leaders; and maintenance of a largely oral culture that allows them to reinvent their histories and genealogies as they move between and around states. In accessible language, James Scott, recognized worldwide as an eminent authority in Southeast Asian, peasant, and agrarian studies, tells the story of the peoples of Zomia and their unlikely odyssey in search of self-determination. He redefines our views on Asian politics, history, demographics, and even our fundamental ideas about what constitutes civilization, and challenges us with a radically different approach to history that presents events from the perspective of stateless peoples and redefines state-making as a form of “internal colonialism.” This new perspective requires a radical reevaluation of the civilizational narratives of the lowland states. Scott’s work on Zomia represents a new way to think of area studies that will be applicable to other runaway, fugitive, and marooned communities, be they Gypsies, Cossacks, tribes fleeing slave raiders, Marsh Arabs, or San-Bushmen.
This book presents an account of an intellectual breakthrough in the study of rural society and agriculture. Its ten chapters, selected for their originality and synthesis from the colloquia of the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University, encompass various disciplines, diverse historical periods, and several regions of the world. The contributors' fresh analyses will broaden the perspectives of readers with interests as wide-ranging as rural sociology, environmentalism, political science, history, anthropology, economics, and art history. The ten studies recast and expand what is known about rural society and agrarian issues, examining such topics as poverty, subsistence, cultivation, ecology, justice, art, custom, law, ritual life, cooperation, and state action. Each contribution provides a point of departure for new study, encouraging deeper thinking across disciplinary boundaries and frontiers.
An account of all the new and surprising evidence now available for the beginnings of the earliest civilizations that contradict the standard narrative. Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, and governed by precursors of today's states? Most people believe that plant and animal domestication allowed humans, finally, to settle down and form agricultural villages, towns, and states, which made possible civilization, law, public order, and a presumably secure way of living. But archaeological and historical evidence challenges this narrative. The first agrarian states, says James C. Scott, were born of accumulations of domestications: first fire, then plants, livestock, subjects of the state, captives, and finally women in the patriarchal family-all of which can be viewed as a way of gaining control over reproduction. Scott explores why we avoided sedentism and plow agriculture, the advantages of mobile subsistence, the unforeseeable disease epidemics arising from crowding plants, animals, and grain, and why all early states are based on millets and cereal grains and unfree labor. He also discusses the "barbarians" who long evaded state control, as a way of understanding continuing tension between states and nonsubject peoples.