EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W115)

In-migration, indigeneity and imagination: or class, community and crisis in Europe

Location Arts Classhall F
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Jeanette Edwards (University of Manchester) email
Gillian Evans (University of Manchester) email
Katherine Smith (University of Manchester) email
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Long Abstract

This panel explores issues to do with the politics of social class and immigration, community and national belonging in contemporary Europe. It seeks to bring together scholars with an ethnographic research interest in emerging national, local and individual imaginations of 'crisis' associated with 'multi-culturalism'. What is the texture of this crisis? How is it imagined? Whose or what purposes does it serve? What kind of response does it elicit? In Britain, for example, a new rhetoric of 'indigeneity' is emerging which, amongst other things, points to a trend towards the ethnicisation of the white working classes. This poses an awkward relationship between moral claims to indigenous status made by ethnic majorities as opposed to ethnic minorities. To what extent is this occurring in other European contexts? What are its specific contours? Are we witness to a new politics of difference? Of interest are the ways in which specific groups and individuals are imagined as 'belonging' (or not) and how such imaginations are played out and represented on a public stage in both neo-liberal and neo-conservative discourses. What are the material consequences of such imaginaries? How are they politically exploited? What are its counterparts and alternatives? While socially and politically shaped boundaries between those who 'rightfully belong' and those who do not have always been naturalised and disseminated in commonsensical ideas, the panel seeks to explore emerging and current modalities of belonging.

Chair: Jeanette Edwards (1st session), Gillian Evans (2nd session), Katherine Smith (3rd session)

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Daily matters, silences and fragmentation of social spaces in Lithuania

Author: Auksuole Cepaitiene (Lithuanian Institute of History)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper draws on ethnographic examples from Lithuania, and discusses the aspect of fragmentation of society through silences. It shows how daily matters become a pretext of reference to general order, its principles, social and ethnic differences or the 'lack of patriotism' - to disruptions and splits of the social. But daily life is a world of an individual, which often remains unvoiced and left out of public stage even by individuals themselves. The paper emphasises: any silence is not a neutral stance; it is a discourse that has significant political dimensions (Degnen 2006; Bonshek 2008; Sheriff 2000). Silence is a practise and a social habit that contains lived experiences, hidden subjectivities and non-represented differences, and is able per se to break off social spaces, and to construct different orders.

Workplace cosmopolitanisation and 'the power and pain of class relations' at sea

Author: Penny McCall Howard (Maritime Union of Australia)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper examines the 'power and the pain of class relations' (Ortner 2006) through the experience of Scottish men working in the global shipping, offshore oil, and fishing industries, industries in which the nationality of workers has changed radically since the 1980s. It combines recent anthropological literature on violence, subjectivity, and cosmopolitanism with a Marxist understanding of class as situated within differing relationships to production. It describes how people have experienced the cosmopolitanisation of their workplaces, as workers from Portugal, Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Philippines have been recruited by employers in order to reduce wages, working conditions, and trade union organisation. Drawing on Therborn (1980), it concludes that the experiences gained through this process have lead to the development of multiple and often contradictory subjectivities, which people draw on as they choose how to act in moments of crisis, and as they imagine possible futures.

Law, labor and privilege: the nature of German labour immigration in the last decade

Author: Leonore Phillips (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)  email
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Long Abstract

Amid contemporary immigration and financial "crises," German national discourse, specifically 2001's Green Card Program and 2005's Immigration Act, shows a marked change in the treatment of international workers over the past decade. Because of these noteworthy changes, my research engages the abundance of materials, including policies and laws, which are formed around competing social interests and historical interpretations. My text examines this politics of differerence by examining how highly skilled immigrants are imagined by law makers and by exploring the way that educational, racial, and economic privilege is written into German labor immigration laws. This paper is embedded in my current fieldwork research which looks at "multicultural" imaginations of technological and scientific innovation in Berlin and the influence of highly skilled immigration in larger discourses of belonging, nationalism, and natalism.

The return of the indigenous: the 'autochtonous' and their 'homelands' in Central Europe

Author: Andre Gingrich (University of Vienna)  email
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Long Abstract

The "typical" feather crown indicates for everybody that this small poster features a Native American's head in red colors; the German sentence below the drawing says: "They failed to fight in-migration, and now they live on reservations." Towards the end of the 21st century's first decade, neo-nationalism and extreme right-wing populism clearly have re-organized their rhetorical and ideological outfit. The present paper discusses through examples from German-speaking cases in Switzerland and Austria how this is enacted by visual and linguistic means. It will be argued that "Inlaender" (lit. the autochtonous, the indigenous) and "Heimat" (homeland) are crucial conceptual tools in this endeavor. This activates and manipulates fears that are understandable and as such often realistic, in order to re-direct and channel them towards a re-defined sense of nationhood under the threat of siege and crisis. Salvation from crisis is offered through visions of the return of the indigenous.

The Aboriginal People of England: the culture of class politics in contemporary Britain

Author: Gillian Evans (University of Manchester)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper gives an anthropological analysis of the legal precedent at the heart of the British National Party's constitution and argues that a significant shift in the structure of sociality in Britain is taking place. This shift is to do with an intersection between the post-colonial and the post-industrial moment in world politics and in Britain this is marked by a move away from classifications of social class towards a preoccupation with race, ethnicity and cultural nationalism framed as indigeneity.

Anxieties of Englishness and participation in democracy

Author: Katherine Smith (University of Manchester)  email
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Long Abstract

In the bi-elections in May 2006, there was only a marginal difference between the amount of votes the far-right British National Party received and the amount the winning Labour Party received in the electoral ward of Higher Blackley, North Manchester, England. This paper will explore some of the contingencies that have led some individuals in Higher Blackley toward more Right Wing political ideals and how everyday life experiences influence how a person participates in democracy. I will explore the role of 'fairness' and its ever-changing moral and ethical associations with governmental parties and voting patterns in Higher Blackley, and will explain how many individuals place government and bureaucracy outside of discourses on 'fairness' because of the sense of 'mis-representations' which national and local government associate with 'working class', 'white', 'English' individuals, particularly in urban spaces as well as local perceptions of 'being ignored' in a 'multicultural Britain'.

Ethnicity versus citizenship? An approach from a tourist economy, Mallorca (Spain)

Author: Alejandro Miquel (UIB (Universitat de les Illes Balears))  email
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Long Abstract

Several studies on migration bring forward new dimensions to old problems in Europe. The changes in the concept and practice of political citizenship, originating in the 1960s, have increased with the emergence of different ways of social and political being, through ethnicisation, and individualizing fragmentation. The way in which some of the effects "constructed" by the crisis are perceived and lived, clearly affect the immigrant segment of the working class, either directly, by reunification, or second generation. This paper argues that, in the case of the Mallorcan tourist economy, the construction process generates neoethnicisation and segregation reactions in some immigrant groups with a double result: Whereas, on the one hand, there is a closed idea of citizenship, in an exclusive way within the indiginous population; on the other, we witness the reunification of some immigrants into politically defensive ethnic communities. The issue of class citizenship emerges as the central problem.

Be different, be productive, be Berlin: conditions of belonging in the 'creative city'

Author: Katharina Bodirsky (Middle East Technical University)  email
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Long Abstract

Berlin was and is a prominent reference for debates in Germany on the "problems of multiculturalism." Today, Berlin's city government embraces "culture and diversity" as resource for regional development, drawing on policy precepts of the creative and intercultural city. At the same time, however, Berlin's former minister of finance contests immigrant belonging with the statement that "many Turks and Arabs in this city have no productive function." His remark is indicative of the contradictions at the heart of the (neo)liberal approach to culture. In the attempt to create cosmopolitan place conducive to economic innovation and competitiveness, it demarcates conditions of belonging of both culturalized and socioeconomic status. In order to count as diversity to be supported, those categorized as different have to engage in "intercultural dialogue" and "not be dependent on social security." The paper examines this approach and its implications through the lens of Berlin's regional development programs.

'It's building up to something and it won't be nice when it erupts.' Contested modes of belonging in 'multicultural' and 'run-down' neighbourhood of Scottish city

Author: Jan Grill (University of Manchester)  email
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Long Abstract

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork amongst Slovakian Roma labour migrants to the UK, this paper examines differentiated modalities of belonging in one 'multicultural' yet 'run-down' neighbourhood in a post-industrial Scottish city. This originally white Scottish working-class area was transformed into a 'multicultural' neighborhood through several migration waves from South Asia and recently from the new EU countries. Those concerned with the lost of 'community spirit' and growing crisis of the neighborhood, blaming its decline for migrants, do so on the grounds of protecting the 'cultural values' and 'rightful economic interests' of endangered majority who is, after 'they took over', turning into still most authentic yet disempowered working-class minority abandoned by the state. I shall ask what can we learn from debunking the logic of the widely shared performative rhetorics of 'I'm not a racist person but….' The paper shall examine several groups (migrants, white working class, and social and health workers) and levels of their competing claims for 'who has the right to belong here' in relation to the transforming vectors of difference and local hierarchy of prejudice shifting alongside variously intersecting capitals of ascribed ethno-national, class, race, gender and cultural membership.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.