W045
How to survive transitional chaos: new post-socialist solidarities

Convenors:
Caterina Borelli
Fabio Mattioli (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
Chair:
Katherine Verdery (CUNY)
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
V315
Start time:
11 July, 2012 at 11:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

The panel focuses on post-socialist societies, exploring not only the violence of transition but also the productive moments whereby new solidarities are elaborated. By not focusing on a specific region, the panel aims at discussing the future(s) of the concept of post-socialism.

Long abstract:

This panel focuses on so-called post-socialist societies. In the last two decades, anthropologists have underlined the problems posed by transitions from socialism. Far from being an untroubled one-way process, transition has often carried with it profound instability, if not chaos. Many authors have stressed how the vagaries of the new market economy have had a disruptive effect on previous social relations, institutions and networks. Seeing the uncertainty and unpredictability of everyday life in post-socialist societies, anthropologists have described transition as a violent process of restructuring socialist society - a theme easily forgotten by western "transitology". This panel sets out to expand such contributions, exploring transitions as productive moments. While recognizing the common experience of harsh transformation, we focus rather on the creative ways people inhabit their new situation. We examine the multiple paths through which people reconfigure the socialist past in alternative strategies for the present. We look at the new forms of solidarity that have been patched together during the transition, i.e. political actions, networks of informal economy, collective expressions of many-sided sensibilities. Because "postsocialism" is no longer a region-specific condition, we aim at generating a wider debate about its own "post" - under the rubric of the new: new forms of social cohesion, contestation and organization of civil society; alternative visions and practices of politics; emergent meanings of sociality, authority, and leadership. Looking at transitional chaos in its creative aspects, the panel explores the way the "first post-socialist generations" reshape the prior order in pathways towards the future.