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  • Cited by 88
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
February 2017
Print publication year:
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Book description

The state is central to social scientific and historical inquiry today, reflecting its importance in domestic and international affairs. States kill, coerce, fight, torture, and incarcerate, yet they also nurture, protect, educate, redistribute, and invest. It is precisely because of the complexity and wide-ranging impacts of states that research on them has proliferated and diversified. Yet, too many scholars inhabit separate academic silos, and theorizing of states has become dispersed and disjointed. This book aims to bridge some of the many gaps between scholarly endeavors, bringing together scholars from a diverse array of disciplines and perspectives who study states and empires. The book offers not only a sample of cutting-edge research that can serve as models and directions for future work, but an original conceptualization and theorization of states, their origins and evolution, and their effects.


'This is one of the finest edited volumes I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The editors eloquently lay out the need for a new stock-taking on one of the most important concepts in the social sciences. An exemplary piece of collective scholarship.'

Dan Slater - University of Chicago

'This cornucopia offers fresh vantages, understanding, and instruction about the modern state and how it might best be studied. Grounded in an appreciative and critical appraisal of recent scholarship, its imaginative essays direct fresh considerations and deepen our analytical tool kit.'

Ira I. Katznelson - Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

'The Many Hands of the State offers a cornucopia of creative new analyses of the state’s role.  Ranging in scale from the historical analysis of empires to inter-agency disputes in today’s Los Angeles jails, illuminating dynamics as diverse as producing black political subjects in contemporary Brazil and making Indian Muslim society legible to the British in the late 19th century, the volume gives lie to the view that the state is no longer an intellectually fertile arena for investigation. The comfortable, nicely-bounded nation state may no longer dominate debate, but these articles demonstrate the kaleidoscopic theoretical vibrancy of new conceptions and perspectives.'

Peter Evans - Emeritus Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

'The Many Hands of the State is a landmark collection. The editors have assembled an all-star cast whose incisive analyses bring the contemporary study of the state into sharp focus. Many Hands powerfully confirms the centrality of states in a globalizing world.'

Margaret Weir - Brown University

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