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Keywords:

  • bureaucracy;
  • aesthetics;
  • writing;
  • gendarmerie;
  • Niger

ABSTRACT

Nigérien gendarmes invest considerable creative energy in their daily paperwork. I explore how the gendarmes conceive of the writing of seemingly purely bureaucratic documents, procès-verbaux, in aesthetic terms. At the same time, I ground the aesthetic appreciation of these documents in the gendarmes’ socioprofessional environment. Writing an aesthetically satisfying procès-verbal is a means of gaining respect from colleagues and superiors and of justifying and actualizing gendarmes’ self-perception as intellectuals in uniform. Bureaucratic work, I argue, is always also aesthetic work, and bureaucratic aesthetics is where aesthetic, pragmatic, and legal reasonings become one.