‘Impressed by the possibility of comparison’…

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We predicate of the thing what lies in the method of representing it.  Impressed by the possibility of comparison, we think we are perceiving a state of affairs of the highest generality. […]

Faraday in The Chemical History of a Candle: “Water is one individual thing—it never changes.” (Wittgenstein, 1986, p. 46e)

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Representation always relies on some prediscursive foundation from which meaning is generated […]  ‘rules of the game’, and ‘norms’ […]  Butler’s dismantling of the sex/gender, nature/culture dichotomies performatively upsets representational logics because representation requires such dichotomisations to function.  For in the absence of dichotomies, how can one cordon off something—the state or sovereignity for example—as natural and prediscursive if the cultural or discursive aspect which it refers to is also a part of it?  […]  A performative understanding of state sovereignty suggests that sovereignty is undecidable because its meaning cannot be fixed, for whenever the meaning of sovereignity is stabilised one finds that the meaning of sovereignity has already moved on to something else […]  there is no sovereign or state identity behind expressions of state sovereignty.  The identity of the state is performatively constituted by the very expressions that are said to be its result. (Weber, 1998, p. 90)

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“the boundary of the state (or political system) never marks a real exterior […]  It is a line drawn internally, within the network of institutional mechanisms through which a certain social and political order is maintained.  […]  it seems so often elusive and unstable.  But this does not mean the line is illusory.  On the contrary […] producing and maintaining the distinction between state and society is itself a mechanism that generates sources of power.  […]  The apparent boundary of the state does not mark the limit of the processes of regulation.  It is itself a product of those processes.  […]  The multiple arrangements that produce the apparent separateness of the state create effects of agency and partial autonomy, with concrete consequences.  Yet such agency will always be contingent on the production of difference – those practices that create the apparent boundary between state and society.  (Mitchell, 2006, pp. 175–176)

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Residual categories are those which cannot be formally represented within a given classification system […]  residual categories are vital to the form and to the aesthetics of all formal systems, and their usability.  They are the defining white space around a formal system’s objects, just as in art[1] (Star & Bowker, 2007)

[1] CF Frege’s definition of a concept

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Negotiability of value operates through the shifting designation of informality itself (McFarlane, 2012, p. 93)

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One person’s infrastructure is another’s brick wall, or in some cases, one person’s brick wall is another’s object of demolition.  (Star, 2002, p. 116)

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[I]nfrastructure is a fundamentally relational concept.  It becomes infrastructure in relation to organised practices.  Within a given cultural context, the cook considers the water system a piece of working infrastructure integral to making dinner; for the city planner, it becomes a variable in a complex equation.  Thus we ask, when—not what—is an infrastructure (Star & Ruhleder, 1996, p. 112)

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[T]here is always a category of utterance within any formal system which is excluded from the system in order for it to work […] Residual categories are made to be unidimensional and undifferentiated (Star & Bowker, 2007)

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[1] the extent to which it interacts with, or comes into the net of, the structures of official governance at the national or local levels;

[2] the extent to which an activity and the interactions among its constituent individuals are structured according to a predictable framework (not necessarily one that is written down) […]

[T]he formal–informal continuum [should] apply strictly to the continuum between relatively high and relatively low levels of the reach of official governance mechanisms, suitably specified and measured in each context”  (Guha-Khasnobis et al., 2006, p. 11 my italics).

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[u]rban informality […] may remain a fluid concept, acquiring shape only in regional locations […]

urban informality while manifested in distinct sectors, is an organizing logic.  It is a process of structuration that constitutes the rules of the game, determining the nature of transactions between individuals and institutions and within institutions.  If formality operates through the fixing of value, including the mapping of spatial value, then informality operates through the constant negotiability of value and the unmapping of space […]

the organizing divide is not so much between formality and informality as the differentiation that exists within informality—that which marks off different types of informal accumulation and informal politics (Roy & AlSayyad, 2004, pp. 13–14)

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An indefinite sense—that would not really be a sense at all.—This is like: An indefinite boundary is not really a boundary at all. […]

“But still it isn’t a game, if there is some vagueness in the rules” (Wittgenstein, 1986, p. 45e)

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This is Wittgenstein’s greatest lesson: what it takes to follow rules is not itself describable by rules.  (Latour, 2005, p. 242)

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In a fluid space it’s not possible to determine identities nice and neatly, once and for all.  Or to distinguish inside from outside, this place from somewhere else.  Similarity and difference aren’t like identity and non-identity.  They come, as it were, in varying shades and colours.  They go together.

So the logic of fluid objects isn’t so different from Wittgenstein’s notion of famility ressemblenace.  But it isn’t quite the same either.  For changes in fluids are not simply permutations of elements such as noses and ears that can be assembled in a random manner, as if at the toss of a dice.  They are better seen as being composed of more or less viscous combinations.

[…]  In fluid spaces objects don’t collapse easily.  But why?  Maybe it’s because there is no single strongpoint to be defended in order to preserve continuity.  Like guerrilla armies, fluids melt back into the night.   (Mol & Law, 1994)

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‘informal politics’ might be summed up by the phrase ‘politics is everywhere’ … It is about forming alliances, exercising power, getting other people to do things, developing influence and protecting and advancing particular goals and interests.  (Painter and Jeffrey 2009:7)

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Turning to ‘major/medium’ [water] projects, promises to undertake such projects play an important role in electoral politics, and their locations and important features are often influenced by political considerations.  (The alleged politician-bureaucrat-technocrat-consultant-contractor-nexus is a different matter, one of corruption rather than politics.)  The differential incidence of the social costs and benefits of such projects on different groups and the generally inequitable distribution of their benefits among the beneficiary groups are part of the ‘political economy’ of the projects.  (Iyer 2005:32)

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Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri in Maqbool (2003)

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