The course will focus on the state as an object of sociological and anthropological analyses. Students will be introduced to historical scholarship on the colonial state (especially the Subaltern Studies) as well as to writings using Gramscian and Foucauldian approaches to study the modern state power and everyday practices. We will address questions like: How can state power be conceptualized? How well do western concepts of the state, sovereignty, bureaucratic rationality travel to non-western contexts? What forms of violence, legality, and governmentality characterize the functioning of post-colonial states? What follows from a theorization of state power in terms of its incapacities and weaknesses? We will use ethnographic material from Africa (e.g. Comaroffs, Mbembe, Ferguson); India (Akhil Gupta, Veena Das), Latin America (Coronil), Southeast Asia (Scott) and Europe (Bourdieu, Fassan) to examine these issues.