Accepted paper:

'Welcome to my Waiting Room!' On the Production of Furniture and Waiting Rooms

Author:

Christine Moderbacher (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Halle)

Paper short abstract:

Based on field research in a carpentry training center for former refugees and migrants in Brussels, the paper explores the damaging forces of having one's time wasted by zooming in on one life history.

Paper long abstract:

Through recounting the life story of the fifty-five-year-old Cise, I will argue that rather than providing Cise with tools that would help him to move forward in his life, the long-life learning program was generating exactly the opposite: after all the efforts in hoping for something better to come, Cise found himself again stuck in a 'Waiting Room' (Jovanovic 2016) that was continuously produced alongside the furniture we made. By exploring how waiting patiently was taught and encouraged within the training, I will argue that the course mirrors a larger structure of bureaucratic strategies that manipulates people's time in order to transform them into 'patients of the state' (Auyero 2012). Despite the endurance Cise showed in countering the circumstances and making himself a life, little by little, the persistent feeling of not moving anywhere lead not only to an inability to move forward but ultimately made him 'sick at heart'.

Cise's increasing distress in the aftermath of the training does not only call for the necessity of continuity and long term engagement in anthropological research but also calls for deeper insights into the damaging forces of feeling stuck in time.

panel P111
Trapped in space, stuck in time? Exploring irregular migration, time and im/mobility