Transportation, Bureaucracy, and Impossibility

EB Saldaña, Anthropology

Wed, 04/07/2021 - 12:00pm
via Zoom
Event Category: 
By Invitation Only
Graduate Students

To RSVP, please email

LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. Academic papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters have been presented at these meetings, to an audience of fellow graduate students.

Abstract:  "In this dissertation chapter draft, I follow one young woman, Beu, through her last day in traffic court, several months after a car accident. Beu, who had been driving without car insurance or a license, struggled to meet court expectations over the several months of her court case. Comparing Beu’s bureaucratic encounters with other ethnographies of bureaucracy that draw upon critical race theory and affect theory, I illustrate how Beu was able to mobilize her anger and frustration with the court system and the opaque car bureaucracy of Kentucky to garner a plea bargain during her last day in court. I take Beu’s experience as occasion to consider the administrative burden that falls on young people who’ve recently aged out of child welfare systems. I argue for a more capacious research and policy agenda that expands what we might consider as necessary forms of care in the aftermath of state intervention, one that includes closer attention to transportation, legal assistance, and infrastructure. What kinds of infrastructure or bureaucratic changes might have helped mitigate some of the difficulties she faced in the absence of state custody or family support?"


EB Saldaña

EB Saldaña is a fifth year doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology. Based on several months of archival research and participant observation in Kentucky with former foster youth, children and family advocates, and service providers, her dissertation examines how young people who "age out" of Kentucky's child welfare system build lives for themselves after state intervention. Specifically, she follows how young people manage crises, cultivate a sense of self, and build relationships with others, in and outside the presence of the state, and how these efforts at living a good life are hindered and helped by state and social services.