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Bequeathing and quest. Processing personal identification papers in bureaucratic spaces (Cuzco, Peru)

  • Sarah Lund (a1)


This article is about personal identity documents and bureaucratic space in Peru. In applying for and renewing a range of personal documentation, individuals trace and re-trace steps through the streets and official buildings of Cuzco in Peru's southern highlands. This movement is highly visible in an unusual urban setting characterised by complex overlays of Incan, colonial, republican and contemporary administrative spaces. While the state constructs personal identification in the process, bodily lessons of citizenship are conveyed through spatial interaction with bureaucratic room. Active participation and varying degrees of acquiescence in these documentary peregrinations visibly legitimise the state presence and dominion on the urban scene. Thus, citizens are created through the sequence of bureaucratic identification on the one hand, and on the other, the state is made evident through the dynamic movement of people through the identification process. Bodily movement both integrates bureaucratic space and is integrated by such places.



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I would like to thank the editor and reviewers of Social Anthropology for their generous encouragement and constructive comments on an earlier version of this article. Participation in the workshop ‘Authorising movement’ at the American Ethnological Society's annual meeting in Toronto, May 1998, was an important catalyst in the early formulation of many of the ideas presented here. Thanks are due to the conveners, Finn Stepputat and Ninna Nyberg Sørensen. Thanks are also due to Aud Talle and Frank Salomon who both read and commented on earlier versions of this work. However, the final outcome is mine alone.


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Social Anthropology
  • ISSN: 0964-0282
  • EISSN: 1469-8676
  • URL: /core/journals/social-anthropology
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