[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.