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versão impressa ISSN 0254-9212


PINKER, Annabel. Papers of double face: Politics of documentation at a project of public engineering. Anthropologica [online]. 2012, vol.30, n.30, pp.101-122. ISSN 0254-9212.

This paper follows the political life of documents produced in relation to a World Bank-funded road engineering technical study in the Peruvian Andes. By contrast with Weber’s emphasis on documents as instruments of rationalisation and transparency, and the more recent focus on documents as aesthetic artefacts and instances of institutional form, I attend to the ambiguous political processes enacted through document flows. I suggest that the ways in which project documents circulated, accumulating multiple connotations as they travelled, generated not clarity, but rather increasing indeterminacy, arguing that their political quality had to do precisely with their dual character, calling up at once normativity (and its promise of justice and order) and the play of unscrupulous «interests». I argue that their dual promise of clarity and ambivalence was key to the opening up of spaces of political possibility in the project.

Palavras-chave : Documents; interests; transparency; ambiguity; the political.

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