EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution

(P048)

Cross-border consumption and collaboration in post-Yugoslav everyday life

Location A-018
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00

Convenors

Zaira Tiziana Lofranco (University of Bergamo) email
Rozita Dimova (Ghent University) email
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Short Abstract

The panel explores new forms of domestic or cross-border collaborative consumption practices in post-Yugoslav everyday life where the dissolution of socialist economic system is entrenched with lingering ethno nationalisms and neoliberal economy.

Long Abstract

The panel focuses on different forms of cross-border collaboration through practices of consumption in post-Yugoslav everyday life. Central to Socialist Yugoslavia, consumption offered an alternative economic model to Eastern bloc planned economy. It played a crucial role in the establishment of a Yugoslav extended middle-class that constituted its identity through consumption practices performed at home and across the borders and challenged top-down imposed socialist egalianitarism. Smuggling or money lending at home, were underpinned by diasporic networks and collaboration with neighbours, colleagues and in many cases by interethnic solidarity. The last gasps of socialist Yugoslavia were marked by changes fostering downward socio-economic mobility, social conflict and mistrust institutionally channelled along ethnic lines. These changes however allowed different forms of solidarity to emerge. The post-Yugoslav everyday life should therefore be examined as a dynamic space marked by the dissolution of socialist system as well as by the presence of ethno national and neoliberal political and economic powers. In this conjuncture, the panel looks at collaborative consumption practices, not only in their material aspect, but in relation to social differentiation and repositioning in space and time. We will explore how ethnic, religious or political conflict or collaboration, kin ties, and workers solidarity are reshaped or substituted by new forms of domestic or cross-border collaboration.

In this framework we will look at collaborative consumption practices such as gifts, donations, smuggling, remittances, money lending and bank guarantee as well as negative reciprocity that marked war time and on-going realities stamped by deep financial crisis.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

"The right to beauty is the right to life": gender, agency and the crisis in the Macedonia/Greece border region

Author: Rozita Dimova (Ghent University)  email

Short Abstract

By following the monthly “escapades” of several female “border-crossers,“ this paper explores their quest for budget-luxury in food, cosmetics and gambling from Greece to Macedonia.

Long Abstract

By following the monthly "escapades" of several female "border-crossers," this paper explores their quest for budget-luxury in food, cosmetics and gambling from Greece to Macedonia. These border-crossing practices between the two countries are seemingly driven by feminine desire for beauty and luxury. At the same time, the act of crossing allows the women to feel as if they are "in charge of their lifes" and able to "exercise" their individual agency in handling the financial crisis. My main aim in this paper is to show how precarity and vulnerability of some Greek citizens since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2010 is being negotiated, contested, even challenged due to two factors: the proximity of the border with the Republic of Macedonia, and gender in which notions of femininity affect the agency of people crossing the border. "Being a real woman," serves as a register of their "active" engagement and participation in dealing with the crisis. The effort of these women to actively participate and to be "in charge of one's own life" extends, I contend, beyond the rubric of beauty and maintaining femininity in the hair salon or the beauty parlor. This "active" engagement often embodies entertainment, but also health and medical decisions thus affecting the "right to life" where crossing the border becomes the only alternative to one's wellbeing.

Cross-border cooperation and active employment policies

Authors: Jonuz Abdullai (SEE University)  email
Afrim Tresi  email

Short Abstract

The paper will present opportunities for cross-border cooperation for reducing poverty and finding solutions by using ICT technology and lifelong learning methods. The research will be focused in the multiethnic border region between Kosovo and Macedonia.

Long Abstract

The border region between the Macedonia and Kosovo mainly consist of rural area where agriculture is the main sector that contributes to the economy and engages people actively. The lack of industry branches and the poor economy has resulted to a high level of unemployment, especially among the young people which has been a main concern in the region for a long period of time now. In the other hand, many young people flee from the small towns toward the cities or abroad in order to get a decent job, thus leaving their family businesses to vanish.

The overall objectives of the paper are to identify the problem and find solution for stimulating the existing agriculture businesses in the border region between Macedonia and Kosovo by using ICT technology and lifelong learning methods. The analyses on this paper will give us an overview for the causes and reasons of the abovementioned problems including migration, unemployment and multiethnic relations.

The methodology used in this research paper will consist of data analysis, comparative and empiric analysis as well as field research among the students of two Universities (SEE University in Macedonia and AAB University in Kosovo). The research expectations should show us the challenges which the young population in contemporary society faces and the various methods and solutions in overcoming their difficulties.

Key words: economy, cross-border, unemployment, cooperation, multiethnic.

When patriarchy challanges nationalism: tales from albanski zetovi (Serbian grooms married to Albanian wives) in Southern Serbia

Author: Armanda Hysa (University College London)  email

Short Abstract

The border zone between Northern Albania and Southern Serbia has not been crossed for many decades. Here we will try to explore how the recent Albanian Serbian mixed marriages overcome ideological and real borders and boundaries, precisely when these borders are presented as untouchable.

Long Abstract

The border zone between Northern Albania, Montenegro and Southern Serbia has not been crossed for 5 decades during socialist regimes of both countries, Albania and Yugoslavia. Border crossing intensificated after 1991 with Montenegro. Most of the trade of Shkodra region would take place in Montenegro. While relations with Serbia have been weak on multiple levels. The phantom of hostility (from both sides) has affected even the everyday communication among various strata of the population. After more than 100 years, in 2006, an Albanian woman would get married to a Serbian man in Southern Serbia, and from then, Albanian brides are to be found almost in every village of Sandjak (or Stara Raska). Serbian men married to Albanian women smiling would call themselves albanski zetovi, while telling how they crossed the uncrossable border to "Fear-land" (Albania). Through these stories here we will try to explore how, when the existence of the very traditional family - which is at the core of real patriarchy - faces the danger of extinction, real patriarchy overcomes, overpasses or breaks the rigid borders of nationalist ideology (or symbolic patriarchy)

The subversive meaning of "living beyond one's means"? Demand for consumer credits in socialist and neoliberal Sarajevo

Author: Zaira Tiziana Lofranco (University of Bergamo)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores demand for consumer credits and proclivity to “live beyond one’s means” that since socialism enabled Sarajevans to bypass top-down imposed model and spaces of consumption and convey socio-economic repositioning. How the last financial crisis challenged this consumption strategy?

Long Abstract

The paper acknowledges the demand for credit in formal market as a distinctive feature of Sarajevans consumption practices both in socialist and in neoliberal time.

Despite the enduring situation of institutional instability,conflict and consequent downward socio-economic mobility, the demand for consumer credit is generated by needs that goes beyond the mere biological survival.

Using ethnographic data, the paper will document the "cultural production of necessity of credit" that indeed is driven by Sarajevans' strategies of "self-maintenance" and socio-economic repositioning.

Furthermore credits also make accessible foreign commodities and allow physical or symbolical escapades from the space of consumption delimited by socialist, ethnonationalist and EU legislation about goods and people cross border mobility.

Thus, both in socialist and neoliberal time, "living beyond one's means" emerges as a crucial strategy to circumvent the disciplinary power over needs and desire exerted by shifting institutions providing credits like socialist state, post-war donors and later on bank corporations.

The paper will then consider how Sarajevans' agency, underpinning the consumption strategy of "living beyond one's means", had been challenged by the recent financial crisis that discloses indebtness as the negative side of consumer credit in a free and deregulated market of money.

New comsumerist spirit, global crisis and ethnical distance in Macedonia

Author: Ali Pajaziti (SEE University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper deals with the consumption practices in a multicultural society, Macedonia, in a lifespace that is coping with the economic crisis, massive poverty, extreme state consumerism (Skopje 2014), individual globalization of lifestyle and ethnicization of consumption practices that is in contradiction with the spirit of economy itself.

Long Abstract

Republic of Macedonia is one of a transitional societies that faces same problems of the Balkan lebenswelt. It is a multicultural society that entered in new millenium with serious turbulencies, from economic (non-apropriate modus of privatization, high rate of unemployment), to political (2001 conflict, permanent ethnical tensions) ones.

The number people living below the national poverty line increased from 4% of the population in 1991 to 20% in 1996. According to State Statistical Office data, in 2008 percentage of poor people in the Republic of Macedonia was 28.7%, wich si more than a fourth of whole population. The survey findings of research done in 2010 (UNDP) show that 40 % of respodents said that their financial situation is worse than average.

Even though there are specific difficulties in the quality of life area, the new modus vivendi is appeared, consumerist culture is omnipresent at different strata of this society, new generation, new malls, new way of spendings even in the global crisis era. Coke, Timberalnd, Iphone, as elsewhere, are dominant icons of our new reality. But there is also a tendence of frustration gap on ethnical lines: 29 % of respondents choose to shop in shops that are owned by people from their etnic group, 50.5% choose only restaurants/coffee bars and 68.0% don’t have business with persons from different ethnic group, owned by persons from a own ethnic group (PCA, 2010:75-76) There is different approach even in the sphere of dichotomy education-corruption: ethnic Macedonian students perceived to use more relations and gifts, while Albanian students bribing with cash or payment in kind (Pajaziti, 2013).

This research aims to show the correlation between neoliberal economic approach, globalisation and nationalism, using the data gathered through content analysis, questionnaire and interviews.

The Socialist Yugoslav 'pact' and the rise of the Yugosphere: the endurance of Yugoslavia's consumer culture as an alternative to state authority

Author: Pieter Troch (Ghent University)  email

Short Abstract

In the economic and political crisis of the 1980s, Socialist Yugoslavia’s consumer culture perpetuated in numerous alternative means of survival that ignored not only the Yugoslav state but also the new ethno-national state borders and can thus explain the endurance of the ‘Yugosphere’.

Long Abstract

The consumer culture of Socialist Yugoslavia was a crucial contributor to the promising ascent and popular legitimacy of the Yugoslav road to communism. Yugoslav consumerism was part of a 'pact' between the Communist political leadership and the 'working people': In exchange for social stability, the Yugoslav citizenry received certain socio-economic privileges (in comparison to the Soviet countries), such as consumerism, labour migration, cross-border shopping, and self-management. When the economic crisis hit Yugoslavia hard in the early 1980s - leading to the first, shocking signs of shortage and restriction - the pact between the political leadership and the Yugoslav citizenry perpetuated in a modified form: the authorities turned a blind eye on numerous alternative means of survival and strategies for pertaining Yugoslav well-being within a failing economic system, such as absenteeism, hidden unemployment and low working ethos, grey economy, informal personal networks, and cross-border smuggling. Violations of regulations became the rule rather than the exception. This kept expressions of socio-economic dissatisfaction remarkably low-profile, but resulted in a crisis of state legitimacy and widespread indifference to state authority. These alternative means of survival not only ignored the Yugoslav state but also the new ethno-national state borders and can thus explain the endurance of the Yugosphere' of transnational and supra-ethnic social, economic, cultural, and political connections.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.