"The right to beauty is the right to life": gender, agency and the crisis in the Macedonia/Greece border region
Rozita Dimova (Ghent University)
Paper 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.
Paper 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.