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Presence and Social Obligation: An Essay on the Share 


James Ferguson

Stanford University

In a recent book, I analyzed the figure of the share as a principle of distribution of social protection payments or “cash transfers” in the global South in general, and in southern Africa in particular. Noting that today’s existing schemes of distribution are (like all “social” schemes before them) limited by principles of nation-state membership, I concluded with the suggestion that it may be possible to detect new logics of social obligation emerging that work not according to a logic of citizenship and national membership, but according to a principle that I called “presence”.  This paper is an attempt to elaborate this conception, and to develop a more complete account of how such an understanding of presence might provide a basis both for an expanded sense of social obligation and for more inclusionary forms of politics.


July 3, 2017


Internationales Kolleg Morphomata
Weyertal 59

50937 Köln