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Measuring the World: Indicators, Human Rights, and Global Governance: with CA comment

by John M. Conley
Author(s): Sally Engle Merry
Reviewed work(s):
Source: Current Anthropology, Vol. 52, No. S3, Corporate Lives: New Perspectives on the
Social Life of the Corporate Form: Edited by Damani J. Partridge, Marina Welker, and
Rebecca Hardin (Supplement to April 2011), pp. S83-S95
Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological
Research
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/657241 .
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state. The growing reliance on indicators provides an example of the dissemination of the corporate form of thinking and governance into broader social spheres. Indicators are widely used porate compliance with human rights standards. There are increasing demands for “evidence-based” funding for nongovernmental organizations and for the results of civil society organizations to be quantifiable and measurable. social responsibility. 0011-3204/2011/520S3-0008$10. Thus. and some of the human rights current use in global governance comes largely from eco. their indicators that they will use. Cor- They are fundamental to modern forms of governmentality porations work to construct desirable reputations and invest whether in the service of corporate. monitored only by a corporation’s law.Current Anthropology Volume 52. used and accepted indicators. indicators of violence against women.1086/657241 .00. or reform modes substantial resources in maintaining them through advertising of governance. this approach to monitoring faces nomics and business management. However. among many others. DOI: 10. Development agencies problems of verifying the information it uses. and indicators of economic There are also NGOs developing tool kits to measure cor- development. Indicators are rapidly multiplying as tools for assessing and Compact (UNGC) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) promoting a variety of social justice and reform strategies are two of the most significant entities promoting corporate around the world. The deployment of statistical measures tends to replace political debate with technical expertise. tool kits are flexible. The modern nation-states in the early nineteenth century and GRI also provides for stakeholder discussions of the relevant practices of business management a few centuries earlier. There are indicators of rule of law. as the other articles in this collection 䉷 2011 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. New York. Supplement 3. they are also increasingly important porations and labeling or certifying responsible corporations. Consumer movements have ratcheted Although indicators are widely used in reform initiatives up the financial consequences of corporate social irrespon- at the global level under the auspices of the United Nations sibility by boycotting goods produced by irresponsible cor- and international NGOs. among many others.edu]).merry@nyu.A. [sally. New York University (25 Waverly Place. these efforts place responsibility for gathering infor- knowledge and governance stretch back to the creation of mation and assessing it on the organizations themselves. These sys- cators. and Global Governance by Sally Engle Merry Indicators are rapidly multiplying as tools for assessing and promoting a variety of social justice and reform strategies around the world. and both rely increasingly on indicators. given its reliance such as the World Bank have created a wide range of indi. The reliance on simplified numerical representations of complex phenomena began in strategies of national governance and economic analysis and has recently migrated to the regulation of nongovernmental organizations and human rights. to corporate social responsibility initiatives. The UN Global An irresponsible corporate performer tarnishes all the other corporations in the same field. Human Rights. and self-monitoring. April 2011 S83 Measuring the World Indicators. including indicators of global governance and rule of tems are all voluntary. on self-reporting and even on choice of measures. indi. and gross domestic product is one of the most widely concern for its public respectability and reputation. cators of violence against women. There are indicators of rule of law. Although the origins of indicators as modes of 1999). It is ironic that the power of Sally Engle Merry is Professor of Anthropology in the Department indicators and their monitoring and accountability mecha- of Anthropology. in the same forms of identity formation as individuals. nisms is primarily dependant on their impact on corporate New York 10003. Clearly. U. the growing reliance on One of the fascinating revelations of the Corporate Lives indicators is an instance of the dissemination of the corporate seminar was recognizing how much corporations participate form of thinking and governance into broader social spheres. and indicators of economic development. in at the national level and are increasingly important in global accordance with contemporary audit culture (see Power governance. All rights reserved. However.S. reputations. Indicators are widely used at the national level and are increasingly important in global governance. The turn to indicators in the field of global governance introduces a new form of knowledge production with implications for relations of power between rich and poor nations and between governments and civil society.

once they are in ient organizations are tasked to develop measures of what place. Here. There are named and who decides what they represent are funda- are demands for quantifying the accomplishments of civil mental to the way an indicator produces knowledge. They represent a technology of producing readily ac- obscured. The con- stituent units can be compared and ranked according to some criteria. Supplement 3. They depend on the construction of them by the committees charged with monitoring compliance categories of measurement such as ethnicity. A key dimension of the power of indicators is duce into the field of global human rights law a form of their capacity to convert complicated contextually variable knowledge production in which numerical measures make phenomena into unambiguous. For example. statistical measures create new categories. measure that is readily understood by the public and simple selves opaque. although the categories of enu- ture philanthropy” underscores this new perspective. He uses the the difficulties of measuring accomplishments such as “in. so it is not surprising that forming the way these organizations do their work. Labels do not necessarily accurately reflect The world of civil society organizations has also been trans. with the major human rights conventions has increased over and more elaborated concepts such as national income. Labeling is essential to produce a rely on practices of measurement and counting that are them. As for productivity and accomplishments. Interest in using indicators to monitor human numbers and the appearance of certainty and objectivity that rights compliance has grown significantly. Statistical Technologies of audit and performance evaluation common measures of populations are clearly connected to eighteenth- in the corporate world now reach into many domains of and early-nineteenth-century ideas that the people of a coun- global governance. One of the critical ways an indicator produces knowledge ticularly those that rely on ranks or numbers. they become extremely resilient and come to take on they have accomplished within the period of funding. April 2011 indicate. They what the numbers mean. and torture. “poverty. are de. cessible and standardized forms of knowledge. Clearly. universal categories. education. Indicators are for example. Indicators intro. An in- nors to human rights organizations want indicators of success. Since the mid-1990s. Do. par. in its conception. Given permanent existence as a form of knowledge. in. Indicators. jumped domains to human rights and corporate social re- As forms of knowledge. health. pansion of the use of indicators. corporations are reciprocally understood as social beings with This article considers two sociological aspects to the ex- identities and reputations. When dicators typically conceal their political and theoretical origins sponsoring organizations name their indicators. the process of mea- ness. The concept of “ven. it is that the IQ test measures. These numbers seem open to public scrutiny and readily accessible in a way that private opinions are not. twentieth centuries (Cohn 1996. of information and increase accountability. IQ is whatever rates of poverty and disease. and impersonal mea- visible forms of violation and inequality that are otherwise sures. Some committees. they have adopted business-based means of accounting surement produces the phenomenon it claims to measure. This knowledge is presented as objective and often The Expansion of Indicators for Global as scientific. they interpret and underlying theories of social change and activism. Statistics on income. clear. such as “rule of law” or of objective truth and facilitate comparisons. census as an example of this creased awareness of human rights. convey an aura is by announcing what it measures.” NGOs tend to count phenomenon (Porter 1995:42). S84 Current Anthropology Volume 52. meration may be highly contingent at first. the corporate form shapes the way individuals are tion of ranking systems based on these measures are trans- understood in the current period. examples of this process is the introduction of the census in ing sessions or number of people trained. they convey. Randeria 2006). technologies that try represent its wealth and that good governance requires were developed in the sphere of business regulation have measuring and counting these people. as well as the UN’s dicators submerge local particularities and idiosyncrasies into Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. thus generating knowledge that is stan- veloping more sophisticated indicators to facilitate the analysis dardized and comparable across nations and regions. As donors move closer to busi. The first is a knowledge effect. The interpretations lurk behind the numbers but Governance are rarely presented explicitly. orga- ditions. the use of India by the British colonial authorities in the nineteenth and quantitative measures of accomplishment and the introduc. the data that produce the indicators. In- the past two decades. sessing and comparing characteristics among groups. The second is a governance effect. Porter (1995) points out. dicator may even create the phenomenon it is measuring such as reductions in trafficking in persons or diminished instead of the other way around. such as number of train. Numerical measures produce a world knowable with- out the detailed particulars of context and history.” Neither of these categories is self-evident. One of the most well-known proxies for these accomplishments. income. Recip. How indicators formed by the increasing use of statistical measures. The use of these statistics and indicators derived from nizations. gender. Dirks 2001. however.S. are useful to assess compliance with human a special use of statistics to develop quantifiable ways of as- rights norms and progress in improving human rights con. indicators rely on the magic of sponsibility. society organizations and for “evidence-based” funding. . or nations. Indeed. category of Hispanic in the U. However.

In Indicators are a technology of not only knowledge pro. Standardized measures mean form tool in their ability to show areas of state failure. and the arbitrary power of elites cators. areas of in- to decide where to locate highways and railroads. Indicators provide a technology for reform as well as con- tistical information. Porter claims. Quantification provided an openness to public scrutiny. 80–81). calculating public utility by numbers offered a de- ing and process of producing indicators. and the assessment with apparently more rational decision making on the basis of which countries have bad human rights conditions. some of which is bundled into indicators. that the state can better administer its population by knowing As indicators become increasingly central to global reform its birth and death rates and income levels. tracing the social networks and systems of meaning even at the cost of subtlety and depth (Porter 1995:85–86). By redefining castes in terms of numbers.Merry Indicators. and local. the population census classified indi. the British claims to rigorous definition and lack of ambiguity. an increasing duction but also governance. the caste categories in existence at the time were relatively of private knowledge and elite power in decision making but fluid. and the population. a technology that tends to consolidate power in the hands of ish arranged the castes in an orderly hierarchy and sought to those with expert knowledge. segmented. where to equality. cooperation and resistance by countries and NGOs in the ence decisions. requiring pared (Randeria 2006:19). Despite the increase in democratic openness contest over who counts and what information counts. produced by the use of statistics in decision making. A critical di- This. in the premodern world. gender. I am in the early pansion of quantification in recent times comes from a po- litical culture that demands more openness and seeks to drive stages of an ethnographic study of three human rights indi- out corruption. aristocratic elites re. all-India category. As the modern state came to see its wealth as its rights violations. indicators as modes of governance does not eliminate the role ever. for example. it put greater emphasis on counting and assessing incidence of poverty and inequality. statistical measures have embedded theories and of the sources of information they use and of the forms of values that shape apparently objective information and influ. despite categories that applied across the subcontinent. such as where to send foreign aid. The first great enthusiasm for sta. the area of contemporary global governance. In theory. facilitate governance by self-management rather than com- allowing the public access to the basis for decisions. vate circles. They of statistical information. Doing an eth- tistics in Europe came in the 1820s and 1830s. is the power of numbers. and by the nography of indicators means examining the history of the mid-nineteenth century in France. the nature of political decisions. The Brit. refugee populations. prejudice. global power relationships. how to allocate taxes. and other prob- build schools and hospitals. careful interpretation by experts (Porter 1995:74. Thus. conditions for business development. mension of the ethnography of global indicators is an analysis However. and and global governance. for example. . the process is more open. the category “Untouchability” emerged as processes of classification and counting that produce the a distinct. of performance articulated in an indicator. They are a valuable re- the nature of the population. Reform movements depend on producing statistical to deploy police forces to control crime. Modern states use sta. religion. They are widely used for de. it is critical to examine how they are collecting taxes (Porter 1995:25). through which they are produced and used. statistics were thought to creation of an indicator and its underlying theory. produced and how the forms of knowledge they create affect The use of statistical information in general and indicators in particular shifts the power dynamics of decision making. for viewing expert statisticians and other experts about the mean- example. disease rates. observing produce the broad public knowledge necessary for a democ. As Porter mand. the were carried out by political or judicial leaders are made by British selected pollution by touch as the key marker of low- technical experts who construct the measures and develop the caste status. statistical expertise. such as human examples. to give only a few measures of the wrongs they hope to redress. How. They influence the allocation of Indicators replace judgments on the basis of values or politics resources. trol. situational. spheres of human rights violations. measures were often arcane and hard to understand. the terms of the indicator are debated and defined. observing data-col- fense against parochialism and local interests in the locations lection processes. and Global Governance S85 To increase legibility. Indicators can effectively highlight deficits. and how lem areas. In place of a wide replaces it with technical. In many situations the turn to collect “objective” information about caste identities. where indicators are typically designed and la- human rights violators. inter- For French bridge and canal engineers at midcentury. statistical rendered caste into a far more fixed and intractable social entity but one that could be more readily counted and com. Individuals and countries are made responsible for (1995) argues. and which countries offer the best beled. reliance on indicators tends to locate decision making in the cisions. and other criteria. derstanding the role and impact of indicators. where to focus on global North. In nineteenth-century France. and examining the ways indicators affect of railroads and canals (Porter 1995:121). The massive ex- decision making and public perceptions. Decisions that range of forms of ritual and social exclusion in practice. Statistical knowledge grew in importance with the This article advocates an ethnographic approach to un- birth of the modern state. their own behavior as they seek to comply with the measures lied on nonnumerical information circulated within small pri. this is viduals by caste. Human Rights. expert group meetings and international discussions where racy.

I have since pondered this choice. critiques of capitalism. maternal mortality rates. UN Statistical Division. As Mary Poovey (1998) argues. They con. Many indicators are composites of other indicators. settled on cohabitation. Indicators typically do not come with a discussion of such dicators such as literacy rates. and in policy indicator.” Expert Group promises. reporting the discussion of similar alchemy: they create a commensurability that is widely an expert group meeting to develop an indicator for violence against women. An indicator presents clearly the most other criterion chosen and wondering how the decision was important features relevant to informed decision making made and by whom. I did not trace the process of deliberation numbers. along Clearly. and manipulation according to fixed rules. UN the uncanny as a way to think about the tension of things Economic Commission for Europe. and expert group meetings that led to this discussion. This document. The “cash nexus” famously pointed to money’s ca- senior UN staff members. Efforts to move between currencies or to do Islamic banking lead to awkward com- 1.3 But does money bury working to develop indicators of early marriage. and within and between countries. Kaufman and Kraay (2007) emphasize the importance of sharing awareness of an issue. data are replaced by the certainty and lack of ambiguity of a merical ranking. the origins of the idea of the modern women may also support the assessment of States’ exercise of their due scientific fact and its representation by numbers. vent free choice of partners. because younger girls are less likely to exercise free is technically fungible with the others. Embedded a number (Goonesekere 2004:10–11). themselves subject to diligence obligation to prevent and address violence against women. The indicator submerges these These qualitative measures are quantified by counting the issues and their surrounding theories. information on measurement error and the constituent elements of the tribute to the monitoring of progress in achieving goals. such as fistula. percentages. as is the case with rule of law measures that number. a into numbers. They argued that it was impossible pacity to make possible comparison and exchange of items to engage in reform projects without indicators and were and services such as potatoes and sex. Not all societies have recognizable wedding ceremo. ratios. The currencies coexist as convertible but socially incom- nies. thinking about the difference it would have made were an- dardized knowledge. nor do they necessarily lead to first sex or cohabitation. Cohabitation might spell the end Indicators are statistical measures that are used to consolidate of a girl’s schooling. it is clearly important to do so. that are the same but always different. They help to raise 2. or pre- legal aid services and shelters for women victims of violence. or community currency in upstate New York. Although the money in each system riage. But what information is lost? Does the number blending and weighting of established indicators into a new bury the messiness of difference and allow equivalence?2 bundle (see Kaufmann and Kraay 2007). Did marriage begin at the age of betrothal. Some indicators use a theories. A recent effort to develop indicators for the Com. uses quantitative in. translation is not sim- choice. One UN staffer sighed and noted that complex data into a simple number or rank that is meaningful marriage is very complicated. for example. vidual specificity and context in favor of superficial but stan. they to policy makers and the public. They tend to ignore indi. Geneva. grounded in man rights violations. time. the number of shelters. the wedding ceremony. What were the criteria? Was it the avail- about one issue or question. and decisions or an analysis of the implications of the choice. A comparison with money is instructive because it is the The importance of understanding indicators emerged dur. describes indicators as follows: “Indicators are part of the knowl- edge base needed to assist policy and decision-making. They enable an evidence-based comparison of trends over many indicators do not make this information available. S86 Current Anthropology Volume 52. 2007. and programs for bearing damage health. the age at money is undermined by questions of morality and sociality. Swit. but in their review of governance indicators. and so on. diminish women’s schooling. the concerning equal inheritance rights. the selection of any criterion depends on how mar- with qualitative indicators such as the existence of legislation riage is defined. con. ple. polices addressing quotas indicator could measure how much early marriage and child- for girl children in educational institutions. occurred along with the invention the effectiveness of related policies and other measures” (4). April 2011 Defining Indicators Age of first sex could indicate medical complications of early childbearing. . mensurate in meaning and morality. labor force participation rates that are sex disaggregated. of double-entry bookkeeping as a mode of business management. Age of betrothal might flag forced mar. Like money. ability of data? To what extent was this decision based on a titative—expressed in rates. against Women (CEDAW). Indicators. the apparent equivalence created by riage. The essence of an in- number of laws. Indicators rely on a zerland. to produce dicator is that it is simple and easy to understand. it appears to allow abstraction and easy assess a country’s rule of law on a scale of 1 to 5 (Davis 2004: comparison among groups and countries by converting values 152). quintessential unit that flattens difference into commensurate ing my conversations about human rights reform with several values. Maurer (2005) notes. or numbers— theory of early marriage and particular health or social prob- some are based on qualitative information converted into lems? At the time. such as Islamic banking cohabitation? These events have different implications for hu. or the age of He examines alternative currencies. Despite these complexities. they note that evaluation.1 Although indicators are quan. Depending on which criterion is chosen. October 8–10. the age of first sex. decisions about measures. but as mittee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination I study indicators further. Supplement 3. Maurer (2005:104–121) refers to the operation of Meeting organized by UN Division for the Advancement of Women. the messiness of difference and allow equivalence? As Bill fronted conceptual challenges in determining the age of mar. Indicators on violence against 3. with their associated benchmarks. “Indicators to Measure Violence against Women. and interpretations of the variety of qualitative measures to construct an ordinal nu.

5. of concerns about lack of data. Doing Business Web site offers a one-page explanation of the Building a composite index of human rights performance index and a caution about its limited scope. and UNDP for measuring and aggregating the information in the report. Green 2001:1082–1084. simplification (see Davis 2004). The World Bank has collected and disseminated a wide range of socioeconomic statistics derived largely from national statis- Human Rights and Audit Culture tical systems. provides a template for the pro- Many economic and social indicators. Until the late 1990s. oversimplification.4 Universities translocal knowledge that allows it to monitor and control and NGOs are also active in collecting and systematizing data. Human Rights.edu/inscr/mar. Green their quality of data. There are significant differences in the quality of In his anthropological account of a European development data on human rights violations among countries. Worldwide Governance Indicators and the UNDP Human While there is considerable discussion of how to develop Development Index. and their 2001). http://mdgs. attention to the impact on practices of governance of these new political technologies based on statistics and accounta- 4. the Commission on the Status of that produces new knowledge. and to make decisions even though cators for human rights compliance. able requires establishing in advance standardized procedures such as FAO. and the UN Statistical Commission are are immutable (certain in meaning. UNESCO.Merry Indicators. there is far less attention to Development agencies have long used indicators. (Latour 1987. In order for a de- human rights principles (Alston 2005:22–25). The re.umd. Making reports combin- statistical indicators among other UN agencies and programs. to rank. ILO. and the Democratic Republic of the Congo last. UNIFEM. Bank development to human rights compliance. the Office of the High Commissioner on Human ducing representations of projects that travel (reports).org/EconomyRankings.”6 Singapore ranked first. This process. de- ect on minorities at risk that examines the status and conflicts veloped in the domain of economics and reliant on univer- of politically active groups (Malhotra and Fasel 2005:21).5 salistic technical standards. UNICEF. concern. was Doing Business Report ranked 181 countries on 10 criteria for widely seen as ideologically biased (Alston 2005:23). projects from a distance and to be accountable to the taxpayers For example. (Malhotra and Fasel 2005). The human rights are held by individuals (see Green 2001:1085). the implications of the use of indicators for practices of global cent shift to a rights-based approach to development (Sen governance itself (but see Rosga and Satterthwaite 2008). that Rights (OHCHR). migrating from economics through the world in comparable terms through their reports. Those project in Africa. These are useful for monitoring compliance human rights activists resisted the use of indicators because with social and economic rights in particular (Green 2001). and that are combinable. and very possibly wrong. http://www. are used to assess compliance with social good indicators and critiques of their errors of measurement.un. while third. Efforts doing business—such as starting a business or dealing with to develop indicators for social and economic human rights construction permits—producing an overall “Ease of Doing have faced difficulties in making the measures concrete (Rosga Business Index. such as the World Bank duction and use of indicators in other domains. For example. it must know about projects around the human rights field. The 2000 UNDP Human the users recognize that these simplified numerical forms are Development Report devoted a chapter to the value of in- superficial. often misleading. By comparing the reports. Measurement errors are also a major in one short table. http://www. dicators for human rights accountability (UNDP 2000). velopment bank to produce the knowledge necessary to mon- Despite these concerns. Despite these promotes quick comparisons of countries along a scale but limitations. the use of indicators is growing in itor and control projects. and economic human rights (Filmer-Wilson 2005:28. the Freedom House indicator. in developing indicators for international investment. and bias Economists at the World Bank have also played a critical role (see Alston 2005:22. 6. such as terthwaite 2008). There are long-standing initiatives to develop the teller). the United States and Satterthwaite 2008). and Global Governance S87 used to compare. Indicators measure aggregates. UN agencies such officials juxtapose these reports to create a common context as UNICEF.” with its seven-point scale from “free” around the world (Davis and Kruse 2007:1097). . A set of indicators has been de. The process depends on pro- Women. Rosga and Sat. the development bank produces veloped for the Millennium Development Goals. the index offers a readily understandable com- ignores the specificity of various human rights and conceals parative exposition of business conditions around the world particular violations. The 2009 to “not free” based on annual surveys starting in 1972.doingbusiness. Within social science. many Fasel 2005:15).org/unsd/mdg/Default. Richard Rottenburg (2009) uses Latour’s countries more concerned about human rights are likely to concept of centers of calculation to describe the production report a higher proportion of violations than those that resist of such comparative translocal knowledge. not shifting according to taking the lead.aspx. there has been considerable gether and encouraged the use of economically based indi. WHO.cidcm. the University of Maryland has a research proj. as well as data on governance and the rule of The use of indicators to monitor compliance with human law based on expert and household surveys (Malhotra and rights is a rapidly growing field. their embedded assumptions. Rottenburg 2009:181–182). 1999) has brought human rights and development closer to. its Doing Business project to assess business conditions “Freedom in the World. however.

The self-checking practices In sum. Political debates The contributors argue that the new system places respon. the sponsoring organization. “agents for from asking countries to come up with their own indicators the creation of new forms of subjectivity: self-managing in. social struc. once an indicator has been cre. What gets counted depends on registers performance in terms of already-established indi. Corporations have clearly been active in their behavior for themselves so that governments can with. such creation of the measure itself. which scores quasi-judicial forum such as a treaty body hearing to the and ranks countries. and data accessibility. such as the World Bank. The the country being governed to develop its own indicators.fi/instut/imr/indicators/index/htm. Technologies of knowledge developed in the eco- developing one set of indicators for monitoring compliance nomic domain move uneasily into these newer fields. work of experts. Similar benefits devolve to treaty national and international terrain. criteria. Audit technologies are theorized as instru. corporation. usually in critique. Treaty bodies are moving ments for new forms of governance and power. what should be measured. in the relative power of the people engaged in pro- reliance on numbers. Supplement 3. the process of assessing compliance indicators differ significantly between those produced by a shifts from the encounter between statements and rules in a powerful organization. compliance is simply a matter of recording per- Strathern 2000). such as money or inventories of parable information in numerical terms. wealth. indicator. and political agendas—indicators provide com. governing bodies onto the indicator itself. and data collection lies with 2005. the indicator displaces judgment from more open to inspection and assessment. They represent the perspectives and success of its efforts. The turn to indicator creation marks a An indicator provides a transition from ambiguity to cer- shift in the way the administration of human rights law takes tainty. Compliance becomes far ence and measurement. with human rights conventions argued that the numbers were The creation of indicators reveals a slippage between the to be used not to rank or shame countries but to assess a political and the technical. the countries being measured. which groups and organizations can afford to count.abo. measurement. in which the experts provide a framework—but to a somewhat greater extent. Satterthwaite 2008). produces an unambiguous and eas. the outcomes appear as forms of knowledge rather than as par- committee can replace its practices of checking country pol. In other words. there is a shift of responsibility that masks the under. or country itself. and from complex variation and place. and the governed person seeks to conform to the consultation with experts in the substantive topic and in the terms of the government. April 2011 bility—what has been called “audit culture” (Power 1999. relatively easily counted. about compliance shift to arguments about how to form an sibility for compliance on the performer. the expansion of the use of indicators in global become evidence of accountability from the perspective of the governance means that political struggles over what human state. Once the indicator has been as OHCHR human rights indicators. established. standards for judgment. methods. such as frequency of torture or prevalence of standards and means of measurement. rooted in particular conceptions of problems and not only seek to comply but also monitor and report the theories of responsibility. Although the experts ill health. defining the terms of the indicators by which their social draw from checking behavior and simply check indicators of responsibility will be judged.7 The experts. The enforcement body moves away from frameworks of those who produce them. and what each mea- Thus. They build on previous bodies that develop indicators: if the treaty body can persuade research studies and knowledge generated by scholars. March 10–13. cators. ticular representations of a methodology and particular po- icies and actions with countries’ self-checking (Rosga and litical decisions about what to measure and what to call it. from theory to fact. . in the identity and role of ated. issues and problems are defined. the rights laws on the basis of ambiguous and contextualized political process of judging and evaluating is transformed into accounts in country reports or case studies—reports in which a technical issue of measurement and counting by the diligent each country is presented as shaped by its history. Instead of pressuring countries to conform to human context to truthful. with its agreed-on quantification. which must political. responsibility for compliance shifts to the mon. indicators are inevitably itored organization. goods. as well as their po- the role of an authority imposing criticisms to a body that litical and financial power. choice of indicators. These debates typically rely on lying power dynamics: the indicator itself does the work of experts in the field of measurement and statistics. and in the power and clout of straightforward meanings. toward a universal set of indicators for all countries that can dividuals who render themselves auditable” (Shore and be assessed impartially by the treaty body (Rosga and Sat- Wright 2000:57). Marilyn Strathern’s (2000) edited collection focuses on rights or corporate social responsibility means and what con- new mechanisms for accountability established by the British stitutes compliance are submerged by technical questions of government for evaluating and reimbursing university faculty. are transplanted into domains far less amenable to sessment rests on the indicator itself. In other words. S88 Current Anthropology Volume 52. The burden of as. comparable numbers. not the checker. performance (Strathern 2000:4). formance according to the indicator. such rankings are possible (Turku Report 2005:7). surement should represent. Turku Expert Meeting on human rights indicators. However. The slippage occurs in the way country’s progress over time. Through the apparatus of sci- ily replicated field for judgment. the 7. Nevertheless. which establishes Moreover. and more participatory processes. Practices of measuring phenomena that are ture. http://www. with their apparently simple and ducing and using indicators. These technologies allow people to check terthwaite 2008:4).

One of the reasons for creating indicators for treaty numbers different in kind from analytic accounts. Indicators are directed not only at helping decision as an objective description of reality outside interpretation makers decide where to build a railroad or in what country was a project of modernity. with an interpretive enhances the exposure of nations to international scrutiny narrative attached to them by which they are given meaning. Students in the United States are very edge through noninterpretive descriptions. Using Indicators for Governance However. By establishing standards according to which in- tion is still pervasive (Poovey 1998:xxv). professional knowl. As scholars of the der Gap Index 2007. the min- merical measures by states for administration and tax ister was using these rankings to point out how well her collection stretches back millennia. rate of women raising children below 12 years according to struments of state governance (Poovey 1998). Local centers may under- of the knowledge projects of the past four centuries (Poovey stand the process differently. The use of nu. Countries sometimes respond by em- edge. pointed out that ac- Statistics became increasingly important as a technology of cording to the World Economic Forum’s Report Global Gen- governance in nineteenth-century Europe. carry out the measurement tasks 1998:xiii). familiar with the role that grades play in their educational century separation of numbers from interpretation made lives. noted that Lithuania was in second place in the employment tion of double-entry bookkeeping. The minister also business transactions. what Mary Poovey (1998:xii) calls the “modern fact” as a Contemporary global indicators inevitably rely on local form of knowledge. Ministry of Social Security and Labour. sionals who worked with them. or resist cooperating with national and in- cause they seem to be simple descriptors of phenomena and ternational expectations. improve their ranking. Schweber 2006). become the bedrock of systematic knowledge because they and assembles the criteria—while data collection typically seem to be free of interpretation and to be neutral and de. the secretary of the could be used in neutral ways to inform it (Poovey 1998:xv). indicators the early-nineteenth-century combination of numbers and should inspire those who are measured to perform better and analysis enabled professionals to develop systematic knowl. became increas- Where did indicators come from? What is their genealogy? ingly important to a variety of government and business func- Since their creation in practices of financial management and tions in the nineteenth century. in different ways. takes place mostly in the global South. with its aura of objectivity. the idea that numbers guarantee value-free descrip. their performance according to the numerical standards of Because the numbers were different in kind from other knowl. Lithuania was among the countries that intellectual history of statistics indicate. As the use of indicators scriptive. Although some see facts as in. Human Rights. locating compliance is to promote nations to take steps to improve them in a different stage in knowledge-producing projects. Numbers have the global North—which sets the agenda. organizations. For example. Establishing the understanding of numbers benefit. 2008. Experts. and subsequently as in. and Global Governance S89 The Genealogy of Indicators used to describe the characteristics of populations themselves. governed. that makes them amenable to such manipulations and makes them amenable to a knowledge system that privileges quantity over quality and equivalence over difference (Poovey 1998: 4). phasizing their status on indicators where they rank highly. made the most significant progress among the top 20 coun- strument of knowledge production were developed first for tries and now occupies fourteenth place. indicators are commonly developed noninterpretive but embody theoretical assumptions about by powerful bodies seeking to manage and control popula- what should be counted. . human rights treaties. Poovey (1998:xii) shows that numbers are not As tools of governance. The modern fact is basic to the ways data-collection processes. from developing cost-benefit governance in Europe perhaps four centuries ago. but it is only with the country was succeeding in diminishing gender discrimination development of the modern state that statistics have been (CEDAW/C/LTU/Q/4). They are presented as objective. which I kind of knowledge. It organizes most managed at the international level. there may be forms of local resistance Numbers can be assigned to observed particulars in a way to the process. knowledge that existed before policy and observed. exemplified in particular by the inven. took responsibility for managing this different monitors compliance with CEDAW on July 2. how to understand material reality.Merry Indicators. Numbers are the epitome of the modern fact be. It is striking that all of the global to resist the biases of conjecture and theory because they are governance indicator projects I have looked at are created in subject to the invariable rules of mathematics. Clearly. Poovey argues that dividuals. when Lithuania reported to the committee that edge producers. or nations should behave. tions or allocate resources. numbers as an in. The use of numerical life spans by life insurance companies in the mid-nineteenth information to understand the world reflects the creation of century (Porter 1995:106–121. they have measures for locating railroad lines to the need to measure migrated across sectors and nations. names the indicator. to invest but also at promoting self-governance among the terpreted. the government representative. They may also be used to rank and how quantification contributes to systematic knowledge countries or organizations or to determine eligibility for a about the world. although they may be created and Westerners have come to know the world. the EU Report on Gender Equality in 2008. and potential control. The nineteenth. Quantification. they could be developed by a special class of profes.

Although some highly ernments. but as they move into the previously distinct 8. while two are from Freedom are induced to take responsibility for their actions (O’Malley House. relies on com- among certain kinds of populations. defining World Bank and the Heritage Foundation’s trade policy in- for the individual his or her degree of merit. Coun- themselves. steps.” He argues that Human Rights Report. State Department 1996. those an increasingly onerous burden of quantifying their accom- ranked lower have relatively little power to challenge or plishments. Social justice and humanitarian organizations face ranked colleges have recently refused to participate at all. Five of the six governance indicators were de- ernance emphasizes “responsibilization. 1999) calls “government at a distance. low. Strathern (2000) and her petition among countries to allocate funding. some colleges downgraded by US The first is the donors’ demand for performance evalua- News and World Report for low rates of alumni giving divide tions of civil society organizations by foundations and gov- their gifts into three yearly payments. but for professionals who work that effective government is fundamental to development. organizations. speakers empha- sized that the turn to indicators is a result of the emphasis Form on accountability. However. even when they are difficult to measure and the change the system of ranking. . such as grades and WHO. which has introduced indicators more likely to receive funding. In some of the most successful examples. The MCC Board identifies eligible countries from the riod that seek to control individual behavior through gov.gov/pages/selection (accessed January 13. A further As indicators shift responsibility for governance from those step in this direction is the U.8 The process of selection involves four new systems of governance have emerged in the postwar pe. As Strathern argues. The indicators are all developed by other in terms of standards set by others.” in which individuals veloped by the World Bank. These indicators dicator. http://www. to participate in the Millennium Corporation Threshold Pro- eralism and the critique of the welfare state. The MCC also uses the Corruption Perceptions Index promote self-management. domain of human rights and humanitarianism. government’s move to create in power to those who are governed. and on the democracies of the postwar period. this The key concern of the MCC program is controlling cor- regime suggests a lack of trust and leads to alienation and ruption through promoting “good governance. The Threshold Program is run by culture and neoliberalism. and the willingness to cooperate lenge Corporation (MCC). As Rosga and Sat.” Countries are resistance.S. This approach emphasizes a country’s re- mechanism creates the standards to which universities then sponsibility for its governance and embodies the argument seek to govern themselves. producing exhaustion and withdrawal.mcc. the state. http://www. and encouraging eco- one that engages the person in governing himself or herself nomic freedom.and middle-income range. In practice. the bound. and economic freedom indicators come from the in school. Health and education indicators come from UNESCO 1999).gov/pages/selection (accessed January 13. because similar practices of mon. the indicator comes to shape subjectivity. The overarching idea is to replace condi- Indicators are a basic technology of corporate management and control. In the liberal teria. it may also produce strategies to “game” Here I will identify three forms of interchange. This system replaces the earlier of faculty productivity and activity as the basis for allocating use of conditions that have to be met by countries receiving revenues to academic departments.9 itoring occur in China under a very different political regime. investing in people. a sense of trust. is increasingly intertwined with these other domains of society terthwaite (2008) note. Supplement 3. For example. what Nikolas Rose (1989:226–227. 1999). of Transparency International and the U. April 2011 The governed often shift their behavior in ways designed aries between business. citizens are to regulate basis of these scorecards. This new form of gov. S90 Current Anthropology Volume 52. gories: ruling justly. While this may be society is an instance of this seepage of the corporate form. The spread of its before those who are governed by them begin to change their techniques of auditing and counting to the state and civil behavior in order to enhance their score. as discussed above. to become active participants in the process rather tries selected by the board as eligible are invited to submit than objects of domination. the corporation desired by the producer of the indicator. Kipnis gram to help raise their score and become eligible for a Mil- (2008) criticizes Rose’s emphasis on the connection of audit lennium Challenge Grant. The Millennium Chal- autonomy. the U. 1996. long hours with low pay under conditions of autonomy. it selects some for assistance. they may undermine indicator-based development funding. 9. this development aid. measured by 17 indicators grouped into three broad cate- The turn to indicators is part of a new form of governance. Agency for International Development (USAID). 2011). the desired outcome. started in 2004. although they may do so in ways not ferred to as “civil society” blur. and what is commonly re- to improve their score. Countries that colleagues criticize the Research Assessment Exercise program perform better on the indicators established by the MCC are of the British government. indicators have a relatively short life in discourse and in management strategy. the indicator.S. 2011). A few countries with a low formation of this self-managing system of governance to the score on one of the policy indicators are selected each year 1950s but sees a major expansion during the era of neolib. and develops scorecards for each country.mcc. In a discussion of the Threshold Program in January 2008 at the American Enterprise Institute (“Can Indicator-Based Indicator Governance and the Corporate Competition Make Foreign Aid Work?”).S. data are expensive to produce. publishes the selection cri- ernance of the soul (Rose 1989. Rose (1989:226–227) dates the proposals for a MCC Compact.

Data collection and analysis companies typically come of indicator development and data collection. is ernance is increasingly being channeled by reliance on indi. It support for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).aei. to the same strategies of governance that corporations ex- CDC. Programme for International pany’s efforts to implement the UNGC principles and un- dertake partnership projects in support of broad UN goals 10. an port for the UNGC by the chief executive officer or other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development senior executives. As social movement activists. revealing the collab- developed a set of detailed indicators that the UNGC adopted oration of academic. and ICF Macro. and good gov. a description of practical actions of a com- educational testing program. guidelines. analysis. 2009). and best practices in order to increase the use of data civil society. By 2006. and disseminate information. Human Rights. detailing its compliance with tries around the world. 11. environmental. labor. independent consultants. The development of data and the promotion of development. The conducts projects for private.000 organizations from The organization is funded by USAID and works in part- nearly 60 countries had formally declared their use of the GRI nership with the University of North Carolina.12 Similarly. It says it launched the pro- We develop. participating in and we collect. 2009). governments. process of collecting and analyzing data and writing reports Not only are corporations increasingly involved in pro- for NGOs. two of the most widely used through collaboration at local.org/event/1627 (accessed July 20.000 com- ods for and approaches to improving health information panies from 100 countries. citizenship initiative in the world. the UNGC 10 principles. For example. governments. a ducing the data and measures that make up indicators used recent initiative of USAID East Africa and the USAID Inter. MEASURE Evaluation performance to assess companies (see Welker and Wood describes itself as providing technical leadership 2011).” They should include a statement of continued sup- and in 2009 it joined with ICF International. ing as much as possible indicators or metrics such as the GRI gust 23. the initiative. and international organi- and civil society governance with its engagement in processes zations. plus its DC. in the public domain. society and international labor organizations. http://www.Merry Indicators. ported to the social reformers. and sometimes even the indicators themselves.10 These examples suggest that work associated with dandy and Goldmann 2009:13). ICF Macro has annual revenues of and corruption. and global levels to global CSR systems. However. clearly a blend of public and private activity that brings to- cators. GRI versity. area and maintains offices across the United States.unc. http://www. as well as local. If a company fails to file a report within 3 years . progress. to work with each participating state for funds according to these standards. The Global Compact Annual Review 2007 describes its MEASURE DHS. government. Tulane Uni- guidelines according to a UNGC report (UNGC 2006:3).cpc. labor. This group and advance the field of M&E in many countries. implement and facilitate state of the art meth.edu/measure (accessed August 23. pliance with their general principles.11 has created a reporting framework through a consensus-seek- ing process. UNFPA. the UN. articulated as indicators. at this event. The emerging field of corporate and several people from MEASURE Evaluation. environmental issues. The UNGC and the GRI. such as MDGs. but efforts to persuade corporations to agency Gender Working Group to create a compendium of be more socially responsible have also adopted this technol- monitoring and evaluation indicators of violence against ogy. the PISA mechanism was too complex and that conditions should be governing board. and UN The corporate form is also moving into domains of state bodies.and public-sector clients in 10 principles cover human rights. academics. 2009). hired an international contractor. knowl. and measurements of expected outcomes us- 12. and corporate actors. labor. monitoring and evaluation (M&E). to carry out the assessment. NGOs. The and corruption practices of corporations.aspx (accessed Au. Corporations from developed countries and often work in developing coun- are increasingly involved in the expensive and highly technical tries. national. and both are voluntary. tions to identify data needs. Under this indicator approach. among others. and use that data for health decision-making. human rights. they have turned advisory group consisted of experts from UNHCR. Student Assessment (PISA).macrointernational. that since 1984 has provided technical as- monitoring process as a system of periodic reports by every sistance for 240 demographic and health surveys in 75 coun- signatory company every 2 years. and Global Governance S91 tionalities with competition. http://www. and functional expert groups (von Bog- loosened. academics. gram in 2000 and as of May 2007 had more than 3. collaboration with a technical advisory group of experts. countries know what is expected of them and can compete an Australian company. gether corporations. ICF Macro is a large corporation that includes a program. Student questionnaires and tests the representative from the UNDP said that he thought the were developed by the international contractors. USAID. ICF Macro is based in the Washington.com/aboutus. to implement its general principles.100 employees. and data use. NGOs. national. more than 125 countries. and other women and girls was developed by MEASURE Evaluation in NGOs seek to control the human rights. WHO. edge. one of whom social responsibility (CSR) relies on indicators of corporate authored the report (Bloom 2008). as well as more than 700 civil systems. The GRI is an international network of business. collect and analyze technically The UNGC Web site claims that it is the largest corporate sound data. both rely on indicators to assess com- build the sustainable capacity of individuals and organiza. and UN agencies. more than 1. The reports are called “communications on approximately $150 million and more than 1. share. and professional institutions.

out the technical and political dimensions of this new tech- ruption. Indicators produce readily understandable and con- zation’s anticorruption policies and procedures (UNGC 2008: venient forms of knowledge about the world that shape the 21. the information requested be a highly complex and expensive process. In both of these monitoring the process are discussion and awareness of these issues in systems. total hours of employee training on policies and procedures also rely on the mobilization of supernatural powers. gust 21. programs. Importantly. HR both depend on the ability to control these forces. the organization published its third generation of guide- place to insure compliance (such as policies. It is pervasive in societies that see more than actual behavior: HR 1. The guidelines to reporting stress ically cope with this situation by politely asking for more that it is important to produce reliable and specific measures information and focusing on information about laws and in order to assess progress rather than to focus only on policies policies more than on data on performance. percentage and total through indicators. SO 2. The guidelines use more than 30 indicators developed by Indicators are a political technology that can be used for many GRI. http://www. and lines. This is a form of knowledge production and governance that . The indicators developed for the It recommends that reports should “use performance indi. Treaty bodies typ- gramme” (UNGC 2008:15). control. In other words. public affairs. GRI G3 (UNGC 2006:5). labor. Thus. of knowledge and a theory of how things happen that are operations identified as having significant risk for incidents hegemonic and rarely subjected to scrutiny. as hegemonic. the CG rep. comparability” (UNGC 2008:15). indicators are a technology that exercises power but in taken. HR 5. grams than on actual changes in behavior. cators appropriate for your company’s size. as in the case of grades for school performance. GRI can be used to address the 10 principles of the UNGC. supernatural forces as powerful actors in the world. percentage and total num. but could be as focuses more on the existence of polices and training pro- simple as a local Global Compact network peer review pro. S92 Current Anthropology Volume 52. supply manage- progress. Misfor- ber of significant investment agreements that include human tunes and disease are the result of hostile supernatural forces. not just morality Conclusions (Welker and Wood 2011). performance indicators. and also allow for benchmarking and untary reporting mechanisms cover roughly the same issues. 2009).org (accessed Au. The 2008 guidelines for communications on progress ad. HR but healing and recovery from psychic and physical illness 3. or cor- UNGC group. In some ways. Annual Review 2007. treaty bodies constantly request more statistical data on out- formance are essential for ensuring continuous improvement” comes and performance and are currently seeking to develop (UNGC 2008:17). this need not judged. activities. indicators seem to offer a solution to the lack of the company. Those with long use have become naturalized. total number of incidents of discrimination and actions craft.13 porate relations offices for this information. operations identified where the right to exercise a variety of ways. depending on who is using it for what freedom of association and collective bargaining may be at purposes. Nevertheless. management. In vocate presenting information about commitment. as well 13. Like treaty body reports. The guidelines suggest that companies check with way policy makers and the general public understand the world. “Companies should similar to that of UN treaty bodies. and of training sessions or policies and management programs. media and public relations. resents another example of the mobilization of the argument that social responsibility is good for business. and indicator protocols called management systems). SO 5. 33. independent information available to those who seek to gov- poration’s reputation (UNGC 2008:18). it becomes increasingly important to sort number of business units analyzed for risks related to cor. it will be defined as inactive and dropped from the ment. or activities. Some focus on behavior while others ask for numbers different purposes. ern. legal. despite their crit- of child labor and measures to contribute to eliminate child ical role in the allocation of power. Some- concerning aspects of human rights that are relevant to op. 39). indicators presume a system significant risk and actions to support these rights. “Specific measurements that track actual per. HR 6. overall. analysing and based on information provided by the organization being disclosing is accurate and reliable. companies Thus. The following list of illustrative indicators is characteristic of Witchcraft is the power to guide the flow of supernatural the UNGC approach of enumerating trainings or policies forces for good or harm.globalcompact. public policy positions and participation in public As the world becomes ever more measured and tracked policy development and lobbying. and measures of outcomes. indicators are like witchcraft. And like witchcraft. Some of the internal benefits claimed for indicators for human rights. including the percentage of employees trained. The GRI focuses on sustainability reporting guidelines. percentage of employees trained in organi. collecting. employee relations. SO 3. the monitoring system for UNGC and GRI is quite are invited to develop their own metrics. systems in 2006. the two vol- operating environment. sector and unique Although there are some differences. in which a governing develop systems and evaluation programmes to assure that organization confronts the dilemma of judging compliance the information they are recording. April 2011 of signing on or 2 years from its previous communication on their human resources. rights clauses or that underwent human rights screening. because erations. including advocacy. while external benefits are enhancing the cor. times the same person is both a witch and a healer. Like witch- 4. nology. Supplement 3. reform.

in their countries of charter. and Justice colloquium at the New York University Law a critical element in the emergence of the modern state. At one new domains and spaces of governance is another way the level. or gender—that are subjected to categorical definition cently called “asymmetries of race and anti-imperialism. the production and management of the student participants of the International Institute of Law indicators have historically been the province of government. because the same knowledge elite ipants at the Wenner-Gren/School of Advanced Research con. anthropology itself was once a leading lightenment roots. social world and new opportunities for governance through Merry’s article provokes many thoughts about the role of self-governance. and ance companies. One of the first recognizably anthro. and Law and Social Sciences program and Science. is si- multaneously to produce knowledge and power. . The expansion of indicator technology into measurement in the production and exercise of power. in the postregulatory era. however. practices of states seems to be yet another way in which “global capitalism just does what the modernizing develop- I endorse Sally Engle Merry’s call for an ethnography of in- ment state once did—only to a larger degree” (Ferguson 2005: dicators. than the other way around. Technology. with we should be prepared for some skepticism as we offer thick their aura of certainty. The use of these statistical techniques. Mimicking the measurement lina 27599-3380. Chapel Hill. Jane Anderson. falling into what Robert Oppenheim (2010:92–93) has re- race.” So and measurement. As Merry notes. In my own law school world. NGOs—have seen the potential of measurement and have and Society program (SES-0921368). . that designed and promulgated the indicator will likely retain ference “Corporate Lives: New Perspectives on the Social Life the role of policing it. North Caro. to define it. Professor of Law. and qualitative disciplines such pedition to Torres Straits. 160 Ridge Road. tends to reproduce itself.A. by announcing what it mea- sures”—an exercise in the power of naming. whereby global banks have voluntarily—and unenforceably— Comment agreed to adopt World Bank social and environmental indi- cators when financing large infrastructure projects in the de- John M.edu). That power This article benefited greatly from comments by the partic. discipline. I might add. self-regulatory industry associations. consequently. As Merry notes.” contribute to the calcification of categories—such as caste. state and are accustomed to treat it as a hegemonic activity.unc. gaging and occasionally instructive “anecdotes. As I do so. U.” They replaced This mimicry may help to explain the power of indicators: softer. I am overwhelmed by the multilayered irony of the situation. and even insur- egorization. and Global Governance S93 has expanded from its economic corporate origins to a wide mined extant scientific justifications for racist hierarchies. Merry mentions CSR and the GRI. become enthusiastic producers and consumers of indicators. To name a cat- egory. and. dicator produces knowledge . cent collision with reality. means “quantitative”. School and to Richard Abel. was a festival of measurement as anthropology are junior partners at best. yielding only en- (Stocking 1984). “Empirical. Now. of the Corporate Form. the power of we turn for help to the avowedly interpretive methods of neoliberal law and economics is barely diminished by its re- anthropology. more interpretive means of evaluation. This research has been in “new governance” networks (Slaughter 2003)—including generously supported by the National Science Foundation corporations. “Evidence-based medicine” is suspect that those same indicators are tools of repressive cat. “an in- corporate form is reshaping contemporary social life. “fair” way for elite colleges to find promising students outside the apparent precision that emanates from measurement is a of the usual family and prep school channels. The banks can William Rand Kenan Jr.” I am grateful to Joseph Weiler and As Merry observes. from my own work with Cynthia Williams.Merry Indicators. (Think of the early. emerged as tools of “progress” and “reform. other private participants ger for comments on an earlier draft. objectivity. is producing new knowledge of the description as an antidote to the tyranny of measurement. CB #3380. the availability of producer of indicators. Human Rights. offering the people are used to being measured and categorized by the promise of rigor.) But now we defining artifact of modernity. post–World even when the measuring agent happens no longer to be the War II days of the SATs. “data”—countable things—drives research questions rather pological field projects. Indicators the discipline continued to pursue “typological arguments. fairness—numbers don’t lie. many indicators 377). the Equator Principles.” ripped from its En- In a further irony. even as “Boas’s anthropology under. and control (think SATs again). health policy makers. to lay down the rules for its measurement.” We should . Conley veloping world (Conley and Williams 2008). the Cambridge Anthropological Ex.S. 5072 Van Hecke-Wettach can thereby head off demands for enhanced state regulation Hall. to decide the criteria for inclusion and Acknowledgments exclusion.” array of uses in national and global governance. As Merry chronicles. University of tout “hard data” showing that they are acting responsibly and North Carolina School of Law. Later. (jmconley@email. a mantra for doctors. and Frank Mun. openness. this phenomenon is linguistic. when the tests were promoted as a state. But there is more to it than that.

2008). NJ: Princeton University Press. Law and Social Inquiry indicators: measuring human rights. 1999. or something else? But how. Nowhere does the public need anthro. Kevin E. Predicaments of freedom. 2007. available at http:// self. India. 107:377–382. dium of monitoring and evaluation indicators. Davis. by a state. 2008. 2009. 2010. March 31. of Law. Nicholas B. What we talk about when we talk about indi- must collect and report the information demanded by the cators: current approaches to human rights measurement. Supplement 3. 2008.gsdrc. Alston. Poovey. Andrew B. 1991. now UN Expert Meeting on Human Rights Indicators. 1996. New Delhi: UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office. Violence against women and girls: a compen. and Nicolas Fasel. responsibility movement as an ethnographic problem. NJ: Princeton University Press. NJ: Princeton University Press. limited: Islamic banking. Audit cultures: neoliberal governmentality. http://www. New York: Berghahn. Science in action: how to follow scientists and engineers through society. Human Securities and Exchange Commission in the precise categories Rights Quarterly 23:1062–1097. So the Kipnis. 2005. New York: Institute Dirks. and Peter from a concession by the state. and Michael B. Satterthwaite. Melissa. Kevin. indicators: a survey of major initiatives. or technologies of governing? American Ethnologist applying indicators onto an entity. Princeton. production of knowledge in the form of specified indicators.ssrn. Bruno. DC: Porter. Bill. 08-59. and Alaka Wall. Pat. edge in the sciences of wealth and society. 1999. Trust in numbers: the pursuit of objectivity U. Oppenheim. 2007. 2010. to maintain its fragile Kaufmann. marks from development actors and other relevant communities. Rajeev. 1996. and Cynthia A. the corporation itself is a form of knowledge production. there is still no agreement among Report prepared for the Department for International Develop- corporate scholars in this country about just what sort of ment. and thereafter. from banks to NGOs. Pp. reality and that it will be done and reported with sufficient Maurer. ever one resolves this theoretical dispute. Pp. human rights analyses for poverty reduction and human rights bench- Although the corporation has always enjoyed a kind of in. London. Governance indicators: where are we. when it wants to sell stock and raise money. Public Law Research Paper no.jus. NJ: Princeton University Press. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Graham Burchell. 1285631.com/sol3/papers. thing it is (Schrane 1987)—is it the manifestation of an agree- Foucault. S94 Current Anthropology Volume 52. AnnJanette. and Margaret L. Economy and Society 25:327–356. 2008). Sri Lanka. Background paper for the pology more than as it confronts the power of indicators. and global capital in neoliberal Africa. 2001. nounced the creation of a “public anthropology” section Malhotra. 2004. DC: World Bank. Summary report of material collated re- One thing that Merry does not point out explicitly is that garding practical guidance to implementing rights-based approaches. Michel. 2005. Far-fetched facts: a parable of development . Checker. it must continue to measure and report on its Paper 4370. ed. 2008. that the SEC specifies. complete legal personhood. India. John Keane.S. Miller. 2005. Governmentality. in science and public life. Entangled histories of uneven modernities: Cohn. Princeton. 1987. that is second nature. Williams. 2005. Taking the measure of Rosga. UNC Legal Rose. retreating nation-state is devolving the duty of creating and socialist legacy. Initially. American Anthropologist nomic spectrum. Introduction: indicators for monitoring that the legal existence of a corporation is predicated on the implementation of CEDAW. The trust in law: the case of the Doing Business project. Oxford: in anthropology? public anthropology reviews. caste solidarities and legal pluralism in post-colonial British in India. Revisiting Hrdlicka and Boas: asym- References Cited metries of race and anti-imperialism in interwar anthropology. Castes of mind: colonialism and the making for International Law and Justice. Colombo. where should we be going? Policy Research Working personhood. David Vine. rule of law reforms? Michigan Journal of International Law 26:141– ———.cfm?abstract_idp1285631.org/go/display/ document/legacyid/1554 (accessed December 19. and Centre for Women’s Research. Cambridge. 1989. Law. A history of the modern fact: problems of knowl- Journal of Transnational Law and Policy 15:49–96. New Delhi. 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