Bureaucratics: Photographic World Tour of Desk Jobs

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[Editor’s note: While your editors take the day off, Flavorwire will be counting down some of our most popular features of 2011 so far. This post originally ran on April 7th. Enjoy your Memorial Day!] Dutch documentary photographer Jan Banning’s Bureaucratics series takes you behind the red tape of China, Russia, India, Bolivia, France, Yemen, and US. Like stills from an Ulrich Seidl film, these enlightening, compelling and at times almost absurd portraits humanize those who push the papers and police order. Meet them and read their stories — toils, system flaws, and all — from a lone police officer of a Siberian town raising a determined eyebrow in a cold, dreary office to a dutiful security general in a prim, Chinese flag-adorned bureau to a Liberian county commissioner who manages a poverty-stricken region from a bare room on zero funds.

Bihar, India. Sushma Prasad (b. 1962) is an assistant clerk at the Cabinet Secretary of the State of Bihar (population 83 million) in The Old Secretariat in the state capital, Patna. She was hired “on compassionate grounds” because of the death of her husband, who until 1997 worked in the same department. Monthly salary: 5,000 rupees ($110, euro 100). Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

Bihar, India. Ram Prabodh Yadav (b. 1970) is sub-inspector (deputy inspector) of police in Maner Block, Patna district, State of Bihar. Monthly salary: 10,000 rupees ($220, 200 euro). Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

Liberia. Major Adolph Dalaney (b. 1940) works in the Reconstruction Room of the Traffic Police at the Liberia National Police Headquarters in the capital Monrovia. Monthly salary: barely 1,000 Liberian dollars ($18, euro 17). Traffic accident victims at times are willing to pay a little extra if Dalaney’s department quickly draws up a favorable report to present to a judge. Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

Liberia. Warford Weadatu Sr. (b. 1963), a former farmer and mail carrier, now is county commissioner (administrator) for Nyenawliken district, River Gee County. He has no budget and is not expecting any money soon from the poverty-stricken authorities in Monrovia. Monthly salary: 1,110 Liberian dollars ($20, euro 19), but he hadn’t received any salary for the previous year. Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

Yemen. Alham Abdulwaze Nuzeli (b. 1982) works at the regional office of the Ministry of Tithing and Alms in the city of Al-Mahwit, Al-Mahwit governorate. Monthly salary: 12,000 rial ($67, euro 46). Behind her a portrait of president Saleh of Yemen. Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

Bolivia. Rodolfo Villca Flores (b. 1958) is chief supervisor of market and sanitary services of the municipality of Betanzos, Cornelio Saavedra province. Previously he worked as a bricklayer, electrician, plumber and handyman. Monthly salary: 1,150 bolivianos ($143, euro 128). Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

China. Qu Shao Feng (b. 1964) is chief general of Jining Public Security Bureau Division of Aliens and Exit-Entry Administration in Jining City, Shandong province. Monthly salary: 3,100 renminbi ($384, 286 euro). Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

China. Wang Ning (b. 1983) works in the Economic Affairs office in Gu Lou community, Yanzhou city, Shandong province. She provides economic assistance to enterprises in her region and is the liaison officer between the government and local enterprises: she helps them get a permit for land use, personnel insurances, environmental permits and taxation registration. There was (at the time) no heating in the room. The maps show regional industrial zones. Wang Ning is not married. She lives at home with her parents. She works from 8:30 to 12am and from 14 to 16am. She has no official paid holidays, except the national bank holidays and the weekends. Monthly salary: 2,100 renminbi ($260, euro 228). Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

Russia, Siberia, province Tomsk. Marina Nikolayevna Berezina (b. 1962), a former singer and choir director, is now the secretary to the head of the financial department of Tomsk province”s Facility Services. She does not want to reveal her monthly salary. Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

Russia, Siberia, province Tomsk. Sergej Michailovich Osipchuk (b. 1974) is the lone police officer in the village of Oktyabrsky (some 2000 inhabitants), Tomsk province. He does not have a police car or one of his own, not even a bicycle. He does not want to reveal his salary, but informed sources put the monthly salary of an officer of his rank and age at approximately 4,000 rubles ($143, euro 108). Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

USA, Texas. Jessie Wolf (b. 1952), a former professional football player for the Miami Dolphins, is now sheriff of Tyler County (some 20,000 inhabitants), Texas, based in Woodville, the county seat. Monthly salary: $ 3,417 (2,542 euro). Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

US, Texas. Shane Fenton (b. 1961) is sheriff of Crockett County (about 3000 inhabitants), Texas, and based in Ozona, the county seat. Monthly salary: $3,166 (2,356 euro). Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

France, Auvergne. Maurice Winterstein (b. 1949) works in Clermont-Ferrand for the Commission for the Advancement of Equal Opportunity and Citizenship at the combined administrative offices of the Auvergne region and the Puy-de-Dome department. He also is in charge of the portfolio of religious affairs, Islam in particular. Monthly salary: euro 1,550 ($2,038). The young lady next to him is Linda Khettabi (b. 1989), an intern pursuing training as a secretary. Image and text courtesy Jan Banning.

Bureaucratics the book has been issued a third run while the photographer is in Kazakhstan working on a new project.