EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution


Forced collaborations: collective responsibility and unequal sacrifice in a Europe in crisis

Location A-121
Date and Start Time 31 July, 2014 at 14:00


Jaime Palomera (Universitat de Barcelona) email
Manos Spyridakis (University of Peloponnese) email
Theodora Vetta (Universitat de Barcelona) email
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Short Abstract

We invite theoretically informed ethnographies that address practices of forced and unequal collaborations in various spheres of society and at different scales. The aim is to unpack the forms of domination, dispossession and struggle that these collaborations support.

Long Abstract

Since the escalation of the "crisis" in Southern Europe there is a dominant moral discourse that underpins accelerated forms of dispossession. This discourse stresses collective responsibility for the crisis and asks people to "collaborate" by making sacrifices. Taking this as a point of departure, we will focus on the concrete forced collaborations to adjustment policies and declining entitlements that emerge in various spheres and at different scales. We invite theoretically informed ethnographic cases that unpack the power relations within this 'collaborative' frame in order to reveal different forms of domination, the (re)production of inequalities, and the reconfiguring of legitimacy. Possible questions that might be addressed include:

• What kinds of political and economic projects are framed as collaborations?

• How are they linked with wider processes of distribution and political economy logics?

• How is legitimacy produced or enforced by political and economic institutions?

• What forms of inequality are (re)produced by such collaborations and how are they maintained?

• What kind of collaborative projects get promoted and which are silenced or repressed, and by whom?

• What alternative collaborations and solidarities emerge from such contexts of dispossession?

Discussant: Susana Narotzky (Universitat de Barcelona)

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Producing peripheries: the Southern European crisis in historical perspective

Authors: Jaime Palomera (Universitat de Barcelona)  email
Theodora Vetta (Universitat de Barcelona)  email

Short Abstract

Current inequalities emerging across class and space in Southern Europe are not only the product of austerity programs but also their productive basis. A historical overview will be provided to highlight how differentiation processes are both renewed and transformed.

Long Abstract

In this introductory paper, we will focus on the four countries of Europe's southern periphery that have been at the center of the eurocrisis for the past years: Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. Current processes of dispossession are highlighting the historically peripheral role of these countries in the development of Western European capitalism, or what some theorists call their 'semiperipheral' position in the world economy. The financial crisis has exposed the economic and political fragility of the European project, revealing that the sovereign debt and financial crises of Southern Europe are inextricably linked to historically longer processes of capitalism formation and transformation.

Yet here we want to think of periphery not in mere geographic terms but rather as a conceptual tool that conveys the gamut of forced collaborations that the reproduction of capital involves at many different scales. The ways in which disadvantaged people are asked to make sacrifices, and how they deal with them, vary when different forms of division are accounted for. Processes of differentiation are not simply the product of austerity programs: they are also their productive basis. In the course of the presentation we will outline some of the clear inequalities that are emerging across class and space, while paying attention to how old historical trends common to the south of Europe are being simultaneously reproduced.

Short-term bureaucrats and flexible asylum seekers: forced precarity, affect and responsibility in the Italian asylum system

Author: Daniela Giudici  email

Short Abstract

This paper seeks to explore the multiple and contrasting effects of ‘forced precarity’, understood as a dominating idiom in the relations between the emerging figures of the ‘short-term bureaucrat’ and the ‘flexible asylum seeker’ in contemporary Italy.

Long Abstract

This paper addresses the dominant presence of the idiom of 'precarity', as a material condition and as an affective disposition, in the asylum-related bureaucratic work in contemporary Italy. The recent transformations of the Italian welfare system dictate new precarious and uncertain positions not only for asylum seekers, but also for bureaucrats and social workers, who find themselves forced to accept increasingly dispossessed working conditions. This pervading scenario of 'precarity' informs the relations between street-level bureaucrats and asylum seekers, assembling in unexpected and contradictory ways the ethics and emotions entangled in these institutional encounters. Drawing from an ethnographic research carried out in the city of Bologna, this paper seeks to explore perceptions, affects and dilemmas of social actors involved in these processes, as well as the divergent, unbalanced and contrasted effects of the neoliberal restructuring of contemporary welfare systems.

Dealing with voids: 'ethnography of decline' in the Sardinian mining districts

Author: Antonio Maria Pusceddu (Universitat de Barcelona)  email

Short Abstract

The paper presents an ethnography of decline of mining industry in Sardinia (Italy) through the analysis of local and popular discourses on dispossession, "collective responsibility" and unequal sacrifice in contexts profoundly marked by mine closure plans.

Long Abstract

The decline of mining industry in Sardinia - one of the largest in Italy, raised a number of social and economic issues. The underground voids left behind by longstanding mining operations have turned into a socially dense metaphor of widespread social and economic voids. Since the 1970s most of the mines previously exploited by private Italian and European companies were took over by state funded societies, in order to avoid the effects of mass layoffs. Nonetheless, in the 1990s almost every mine in the main ore districts had been closed and dismantled. New prospects of post-industrial economy have been foreseen in the pursuing of the development of tourism and cultural heritage exploitation. In this scenery of advanced de-industrialization, two mines still operated are facing closure in the near future: 1) the last Italian coalmine in the coalfield launched in the 1930s by the fascist regime, that has relied on state subsidies to survive in the post-war European economy; 2) a mine in the largest fluorite vein in Europe, started by a private Italian-Swiss company in the 1950s and successfully operated up until the 1990s, when it was sold to the regional government due to unfavorable market conditions.

Focusing on these two case-studies, the paper intends to provide a comparative discussion of local and popular discourses on dispossession of "wealth". Bringing into the framework institutional and political discourses (EU, trade-unions, political parties), the paper tries to outline the shaping of "collective responsibility" and "unequal sacrifice" in the European periphery.

Kiruna for whom? Citizen participation and contestation through urban planning in the mining-based displacement of the city of Kiruna, Sweden

Author: Elisa Lopez (Uppsala University, Sweden)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores how citizens of Kiruna, Sweden, “participate” (and express agency and dissent) through the urban planning process of “New Kiruna”, a project of forced displacement and relocation caused by ground damage from ongoing mining activity by the state-owned iron mining company, LKAB.

Long Abstract

This paper examines the ways in which the citizens in the city of Kiruna, Sweden have sought to influence the forced relocation and reconstruction of their city due to growing damage from continuing underground mining activity by the Swedish state-owned iron mining company, LKAB. This process of displacement, which includes over 3,000 households, two major highways, the national railroad, and the majority of city infrastructure and services, has overwhelmingly been represented by both the company and the municipality as an opportunity for a "better" city. What constitutes a "better city", however, is a contested idea in Kiruna, touching upon deeply-entrenched power relations between the citizenry and LKAB as the town's largest employer and the Swedish state's conspicuous conflict of interest - as protector and negotiator of equity on behalf of citizens on the one hand, and as the owner of the mining company advocating the move on the other. Using empirical material from ongoing fieldwork with city planners, architects, and LKAB project leaders as well as affected business owners, renters, and other land-users in and around Kiruna (including the indigenous people of the area, the Sami), I trace the ways in which unequal power relations between the mining company, local community, and the state are being reproduced in the urban planning of the new city, and how stakeholders challenge and express their lack of agency through the physical design and construction of "New Kiruna", the only aspect of this relocation in which citizen's participatory input has been sought.

Every-day strategies to get by in times of crises: new forms of collaboration in an uncertain Portugal

Author: Antónia Pedroso de Lima ( ISCTE-IUL / CRIA )  email

Short Abstract

In times of Crisis people engage in innovative forms of collaboration to ensure reproduction. From an ethnographic study of every-day strategies to get by in Portugal I argue that overcoming disposition produced by austerity produces new forms of inequality.

Long Abstract

Portugal is undergoing a wide socio-economic crisis (with increasing rates of unemploymentand immigration , low family income, and a growing aged population) with rigid austerity long term policies. Faced with the failing capability of state care systems to continue to provide support, people (re)turn to informal ways to overcome their precarious situation creating new forms of colaboration and solidarity.

By setting extremely precarious ways of living, the 'state of emergency' Portugal lives in, stimulates creativity and innovation not only at the economic but in the social and moral realms as well. From an ethnographic study of every-day strategies to get by in Portugal, in this paper I will analyze how people deal with the uncertainty produced by austerity policies and ensure their subsistence. This paper will debate how informal practices driven by collective responsibility sometimes support national economies in uncertainty contexts produced in uncertainty contexts produced in times of crises.

The emergent in emergency: economic crisis, dispossession and emergent solidarities in Greece

Author: Ilektra Kyriazidou (University of Kent)  email

Short Abstract

The economic crisis in Greece demands emergency measures and sacrifices as a necessary condition of the social. Within a context of political and economic dispossession, solidarities emerge that carry the possibility of actualizing the future through, and out of, a framed reality.

Long Abstract

The Economic Crisis in Greece demands fast responses pre-emptively decided, emergency measures, and sacrifices under the rubric of national unity and as a necessary condition of the social. Dispossession has become the bell-wether of the social.

Within this context emerge forces capable of actualizing the future through and out of a framed reality. Social centres, consumer and production cooperatives, ecovillages, social and solidarity economy experiments, gratuitous bazaars, domain assemblies, strategies of commoning, and worker's self-management are among the many emergent autonomous solidarities. Such is the case of Vio.me., an abandoned by its bankrupt owner factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, that, after long struggles and intense mobilization has been occupied and reopened by its workers under democratic worker's control. The self-managed experience of Vio.me has achieved a stable although limited income for the workers through the production of ecological detergents, and has transformed a novel experiment into a viable alternative.

What has been initiated as a survival mechanism and a creative response to unemployment has developed in the process new, potentially empowering, collective subjectivities and alignments.

This paper aims to explore the ways the project of Vio.me is created by, and creates on its way, voluntary collaborations between its members and supportive relations with the wider community in the context of the Greek Economic Crisis.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.