EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution
Networking, collaboration and intimacy in the Mediterranean (Mediterraneanist Network)
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00
The panel of the Mediterraneanist Network (MedNet) calls for papers exploring social practices of networking and intimate collaboration, based on research in the Mediterranean region, in contexts of social change, political activism or other social fields, such as those using digital media.
Social practices of networking as well as intimate collaborations and informal coalitions, important topics examined by anthropologists working in the Mediterranean, have shown to be of particular interest in understanding people's reactions and contributions to ongoing social and political changes today. In this context of reshaped or newly emerging collaborative practices of intimate cooperation and social networking in Mediterranean countries the panel organised by the Mediterraneanist network (MedNet) - open to all members of EASA regardless of whether the paper presenter is a member of MedNet or not - calls for contributions to the ethnography of collaborative intimacies based on anthropological research in the Mediterranean region.
Understood in a very broad sense, social networking, informal coalitions and forms of intimate collaborations can be found not only in social fields and activities related to radical political transformation or rapid social change, but in other forms of social interaction as well, for example, in using virtual communication on the Internet or the new digital media, to which paper givers may address themselves. Thinking of these interactions in terms of intimate collaborations also brings up questions of clashes, conflict and collusions in the research agenda, which contributors to the MedNet panel are invited to consider. Contributions might also discuss how a new understanding of the dynamics of networking in relation to the intimacy of cooperation and collaboration might reshape our anthropological concepts to better understand 'what is going on' at present in various countries of the Mediterranean region.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
"Not like the old days": widening networks and the changing quality of social relationships
From the 1970s on, ethnographers of southern Europe have noted a decline in the intensity (both intimate and conflictual) of local life. I ask about the structural reasons for this change, and its relation to kinship networks and to underlying ideas about community, self and social interaction.
From the 1970s onwards, ethnographers of southern Europe have noted a decline in the former intensity (both intimate and conflictual) of local life. This intensity was bound up with a particular structure of kinship networks. Though kin ties extended very widely (even to other continents) local endogamy ensured that the ties between co-villagers were particularly dense. The discouragement of marriage within the prohibited degrees also meant that ties of kinship and alliance within the village community were continually shifting. This set-up provided the structural conditions for both the intimate local attachment and the envious rivalries reported by so many ethnographers.
Urbanisation and the decline of peasant farming (and of the practical motives for local endogamy) have reduced the concentration of local kinship ties. I argue that this has contributed to the change in social atmosphere, but that a second factor is just as important. Cooperation, both practical and ritual, was a crucial part of the former social model - providing a dramatic context in which people could reconcile their ambitions with their need for solidarity, and achieve a satisfactory sense of self. Much of the change in social atmosphere derives from the continuation, as a set of implicit ideas, of the former social model - but in conditions where earlier levels of cooperation are no longer a practical possibility.
As evidence I draw on the ethnographic literature, including my own research in northeast Italy, and on a number of network studies.
Competition vis-à-vis cooperation in the aftermath of economical crisis in Greece
Focusing on the aftermath of economical crisis in Greece, this article seeks to unravel anthropos' potential for cooperation in the “self-centered” Greek society. Furthermore it explores how virtual communication may play a role in enhancing this effort of intimate collaborations.
20th century social theory, which accounts for the majority of anthropology's professional history, was portrayed by the longstanding idea that anthropos by nature is selfish and antagonistic being. This article puts into question this theoretical belief seeking to explore how social environment may shape human behavior and force anthropos to react in certain antagonistic ways. Is anthropos a selfish and competitive being by nature? Does anthropos seek only to satisfy his/her own needs, motivated solely by personal interests and benefits? Or his/her behavior and his/her feelings are shaped by the way she/he is nurtured? Sussman and Chapman do believe that societies whose members value morality or unselfish behavior are more likely to survive and thrive (Sussman and Chapman, 2004).
In the aftermath of economical crisis in Greece and of extreme social changes, people are puzzled and anxious under the new conditions they have to face. On the one hand there is a widespread distrust among people and lots of unanswered questions, such as why we do not join together? why we only search for personal survival ignoring our intimate people? why young people are so softly? On the other hand in response to this global social - economic crisis, many people timidly are organized and mobilized through associations, community organizations, giving new opportunities for cultural expression and social interaction in our society, such as "Fair-trade networks without traders in Greece" , previously unknown. Technology, especially social networks, enhances this effort spurring new types of cooperation.
Sussman, R. W. & Chapman,A. R.2004, Origins and Nature of Sociality. Transaction Publishers.
Facciamo rete! Collaborative relationships and network-formation of the Italian feminist movement "Se Non Ora Quando"
The paper analyzes the modes of networking and collaboration of the movement “Se Non Ora Quando” (SNOQ). It examines the roles of intimate relationships and face to face encounters vs. communication through social media and the implications for protest practices, coalitions and formation processes.
Among Italian feminists of the1960/70s, intimate relationships and face-to-face-encounters were essential for the formation of groups, stemming from the "philosophy of difference". Which forms of networking and collaboration do feminist movements in Italy nowadays adopt, and what kind of relations, group structures and protest practices are formed by them? These questions I want to explore based on the example of the 2011 founded women´s movement SNOQ. I will focus on the following aspects:
1. The role of personal meetings and intimate relationships vs. the use of social networks and internet platforms for formation processes, collaboration and the organization of actions of local SNOQ groups as well as on the national level. How and for what purposes are the different forms of communication used (e.g. discussions vs. decision-making)? In what way is their employment determined by generation or other factors? How do conflicts and hierarchies manifest themselves in different forms of interaction?
2. I also want to show how internal interactions relate to external coalition formation and networking. Which connections and collaborations exist with other movements and organizations and with the population? How do the forms of collaboration constitute the protest practices of the movement?
I will address these points on the basis of the following empirical data:
• Participant observation at local and national actions and meetings of SNOQ
• Biographic/theme-centered Interviews (based on Witzel 2000) with members of the movement
• A discourse analysis (following Jaeger 1991) of discussions on the internet platform "SNOQ 3.0"
Informal practices and political culture in Greece
The paper investigates changing informal practices in present day Greece which are connected to intimate cooperation and social networking in the political sphere. The question is how informal practices of clientelism and patronage and their legitimacy have changed in dept-ridden Greece of today.
The paper investigates changing informal practices in everyday life in present day Greece which are connected to intimate cooperation and social networking in the political sphere. In the anthropology of the Mediterranean, these relations have been discussed in terms of clientelism and political patronage (Campbell, Boissevain, Clogg). The exchange of goods and services for political support, one of the main features of the post-war Greek political system, was widely accepted as a legitimate social practice to achieve social and personal goals. In debt-ridden Greece of today, such long-established patterns of rewarding political followers have become difficult for political leaders regarding the crude fact of an empty state treasury. Referring to the anthropological discussion on the interrelation between legitimacy and legality, the question to be analyzed in the proposed paper is how these informal practices and their legitimacy have become transformed recently in relation to the established political culture of the country.
Performing networks: 'open theatre' as political action in Athens
As a social practice of networking, the 1st Handmade and Recycled Theatre Festival in Athens allowed participants to transform ‘open theatre’ into an energetic political action oriented towards changing social relations in the frame of the economic/political crisis in Greece today.
In 2011 a social movement emerged in Greece as a reaction to the austerity measures that were imposed by the European Union and the IMF. One of the most significant expressions of this movement was the occupation of the Syntagma Square in Athens for more than three months, during which people organized a variety of activities (social, political, artistic). Ethnographic fieldwork showed that this movement was pluralistic, horizontally organized, and open to anyone. Despite the many and highly controversial reactions it caused, the collective experience of "the Square" was transformed into numerous 'real' and 'virtual' networks, which today give citizens access to products, services, work, etc. through social relations that are non-hierarchical and not mediated by monetary transactions. Within this context, many theatrical groups aim at creating an alternative social space in Athens, a space for artistic activity propelled by a need for research, expression and communication and not for economic profit. In this presentation my aim is to explore the "1st Handmade and Recycled Theatre Festival" which took place in Athens in 2013, as a social practice of networking and developing informal and intimate collaborations between groups and individuals who want to promote an 'open theatre'. Through its creative and improvisatory character, 'open theatre' cultivates alternative ways of thinking and performing, thus becoming an energetic political action oriented towards changing social relations in the frame of the economic and political crisis in Greece today.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.