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Journal Articles Ethnography Year : 2019

The petition ceremony.

Emilia Schijman


The thousands of petitions sent to the president from Argentina’s cities and far-flung rural areas bear witness to an intense dialogue between the poor and the state. Low levels of schooling do not prevent people from writing down and submitting their grievances, since model letters circulate in family and neighborly networks. More come from women than from men. Far from simple requests for patronage or expressions of submission, they carry a blend of excuses, prayers, proclamations of rights, threats, intimate accounts, and demands. Rather than focusing on a scene of collective mobilization or encounters with state bureaucracies, the article concerns letters that provide accounts of the poor’s legal consciousness and the current systems of legitimacy for claiming that they deserve. Based on a body of 200 letters addressed to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner between 2007 and 2015, this article analyses such letters as a genuine form of action that aims to change the relationship between the poor, state agencies, and the law.
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halshs-02361419 , version 1 (02-01-2023)


  • HAL Id : halshs-02361419 , version 1


Emilia Schijman. The petition ceremony.: Letters to the president of Argentina. Ethnography, 2019. ⟨halshs-02361419⟩
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