EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006


Transitions: movements in space and time

Location MVB 1.11a
Date and Start Time 20 Sep, 2006 at 11:30


Susana Narotzky (Universitat de Barcelona) email
Deema Kaneff (Birmingham University) email
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Short Abstract

This workshop represents a collaboration between three European institutions: the Anthropology Departments of Goldsmiths College (University of London) and the Universitat de Barcelona, and the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology (Halle). The workshop will focus on the question of transitions, both from the perspective of regional and transnational movement and that of the (re)elaboration of social relationships in the context of radical social change.

Long Abstract

This workshop will focus on transitions. These are considered from the perspective of regional and transnational movements and the (re)elaboration of social relationships in the context of radical social change. Central to the discussion is how subjects articulate relationships, practices and locations while confronting extreme and unsettling situations. How do subjects make their life world in changing circumstances? Tracing continuities, identifying breaks in social practices and institutional arrangements in relation to both space and time, is crucial: to what extent do subjects make their world as before/elsewhere? Is their intention to create radically different experiences and build distinct life worlds? The first session (Pine; Kaneff) emphasises the dimensions of space and movement, looking at trans-regional and transnational migration and mobility. The session will explore connections across time and space, and the emergence of new forms of connectedness, tracing continuities and breaks in the experience of transnational subjects. The second session (Narotzky; Goddard) emphasises the dimension of time and memory, exploring how ideas, practices, connections and relationships might be drawn on to create or reshape life worlds in relation to shifts in the social and political landscape. We explore how past, present and future are re-articulated in the experience of historical subjects trying to find their bearings after a social conflict or crisis. Both sessions focus on post-conflict and post-transition situations, where the collapse of authoritarian systems and emergence of market democracies pose particular challenges. We envisage discussion of situations where time and space collapse, as in the case of European former socialist states. However, a comparative approach is encouraged and we welcome contributions from all historical and regional contexts. Abstracts should be addressed either to session 1 or 2.

Chair: Deema Kaneff, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and Susana Narotzky, Universitat de Barcelona
Discussant: Victoria Goddard, Goldsmiths College and Frances Pine, Goldsmiths College/Max Planck Institute


Stories of suitcases and rucksacks: changing values of material objects in the narratives of Polish post-communist immigrants to the United Kingdom

Author: Aleksandra Galasinska (University of Wolverhampton)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper I shall discuss the change in values ascribed to material objects, as experienced and narrated by immigrants, in the context of socio-political change in Europe. I shall focus on two groups of immigrants who came from Poland to the United Kingdom - those who came soon after the collapse of communism in 1989 and those who arrived after the European Union expansion in 2004.

Drawing upon Beck et al's concept of 'meta-change' of modern society (Beck & Lau, 2005; Beck, Bonss, Lau, 2003), I shall demonstrate that different ideological underpinnings in the narratives result in different experiences of material goods. The earlier migration was constructed according to the 'either/or' principle, as an extremely hard and critical moment in our informants' lives. Despite having the passport and the possibility of going back and forth (one of the major achievements in civil rights after the collapse of communism in 1989), the journey to the United Kingdom was constructed as a final step in leaving one space and moving into another. This, in turn, influenced the pattern of packing and people's attitudes to the material world associated with a process of migration. A detailed list of my interlocutors possessions became a necessary component of orientation (understood as part of an internal structure of canonical narratives in Labovian sense (Labov & Waletzky, 1967)).

In contrast, the later migration was constructed with the 'both/and' principle, as a temporary period in people's lives. The decision and journey were quite easy steps, the passage was blurred and their living space was extended rather than replaced. In consequence, narratives of packing changed as well, not only in their contents, but, what is more interesting, also in the linguistic form. This part of the narrative looks more like a recipient driven report (Polanyi, 1989) given in non-narrative mode of discourse (Georgakopoulou & Gautsos, 2000).

I shall argue that the change in the linguistic form of my interlocutors' accounts mirrored the change in values, understood here as Bourdieu's capital, ascribed to material objects by people who moved their domicile in the are of transition.

From the Philippines to Denmark: strategies and tactics easing the transition

Author: Helena Patzer (Czech Academy of Sciences)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper deals with the ways in which Filipino immigrants in Denmark turn the often difficult situation of migration to their own benefit and learn to function in the new society. Once in Denmark, Filipinos must get accustomed to the unfamiliar environment - incomprehensible language, different people, new working conditions and duties, unwelcoming weather. The notions explaining the world have to be redefined, relationships reshaped, and learned behaviour changed.

When being in a well-known territory, like the Catholic Church, Filipinos resort to strategies learned still in the Philippines - engaging in the church service, forming prayer groups, spreading devotions to certain images. However, to domesticate the jungle of new symbols, they have to resort to tricks which can be called tactics - they have to figure out how to act in a particular situation by looking at what others do. The rules of the game have not been created by them, but they have to comply with them. Tactics are used mostly in everyday situations, at work, when dealing with Danish institutions, in personal contacts with Danes. The transnational connections of the Filipino immigrants are also tactical in character, and provide another way of dealing with the transition from one society to another.

That Filipinos are successful in adjusting to the Danish society can be seen in the fact that they are perceived as successful and even desirable foreigners in Denmark. They know how to make use of the stereotypical view of the immigrant from the Philippines. The Filipinos, and the Filipinas even more so, are said to be good-looking and well-integrating into the society.

Transnational migration and the role of the ethnic church: the case of the Bulgarian community in Chicago

Author: Magdalena Elchinova (New Bulgarian University)  email
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Long Abstract

The big industrial cities in Canada and the US Northeast and Midwest became the home of many Bulgarians already by the beginning of the twentieth century. The fall of communism ignited a new wave of migration, which in the early 1990s was predominantly oriented across the Atlantic. Today Chicago, Illinois is reported to be the host of the largest Bulgarian diaspora, with its Bulgarian-speaking population estimated between 100 000-150 000. In the recent years migration from Bulgaria to West European countries is much more common, but unlike those going to Europe, Bulgarians who cross the ocean with a Green Card enter the host society with the intention to settle there more permanently. Accordingly, they have developed specific patterns of adaptation, including the formation of their own "ethnic" spaces on the host city maps: churches, clubs, restaurants, etc.

This paper tries to discuss the role of the 'St. Ivan Rilski" Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Chicago in the lives of the Bulgarian immigrants there, as well as in the formation of a Bulgarian migrant community on American soil. The various functions of the church are described and analysed: as a place of worship, of religious and secular celebrations, of weekly community gatherings, as well as a place where newcomers look for vital information and support when settling down in the new environment. The focus is on the way individuals speak of the church, the priests and the authorities they represent, as well as the way they view the church as a significant site on their personal life trajectories. The question of why the church has obtained such a significance as compared to other 'ethnic' sites is also discussed.

Enshrining Vietnamese versions of Irish-ness

Author: Mark Maguire (Maynooth University)  email
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Long Abstract

Ireland could once have been described as an "emigrant nursery", to borrow the geographer James MacLaughlin's term, whereas now it is immigration that dominates media and public discourse. Dramatic shifts in migration patterns have dovetailed with the rise of the so-called Celtic Tiger economy, and both immigration and economic growth have been fundamentally urban in character.

Anthropological studies of ethnocity contexts can illuminate much about immigrant incorporation, and relations to mainstream society and, perhaps, to the broader transnational world. In this paper, I draw on recent ethnographic work (Maguire 2004) among the Vietnamese-Irish to consider the cultural history of this minority in terms of resettlement, livelihood, education and home life, as these themes relate to broader forces. The Vietnamese-Irish maintain strong transnational connections and, yet, have an active engagement with specific versions of Irish-ness. I discuss these topics through the eyes and in the words of the people themselves.

In the latter part of the paper I pay specific attention to 'enshrining'—the spatial practices of belonging—through examples ranging from religion to home videos, in order to draw out and extend a reading of the spatial turn in critical social theory from Foucault (2002) to Lefebvre (1991). The central point here is that migrant connections to the transnational or diasporic world, to the specific conditions of immigrant incorporation and to the imagination of the future are by necessity spatial and, thus, are available for anthropological analysis: this holding together of different worlds is what I term enshrining.


Foucault, Michel. (2002). The Order of Things: an archaeology of the human sciences. London and New York: Routledge.

Lefebvre, Henri. (1991). The Production of Space. London: Blackwell.

Maguire, Mark (with photographs by Thai Van Nga). (2004). Differently Irish: a cultural history exploring 25 years of Vietnamese-Irish identity. Dublin: The Woodfield Press.

MacLaughlin, James. Ireland: the emigrant nursery and the world economy, Cork, Cork University Press, 1994.

'Down-to-earth men' in post-socialist transition: the Greek-Catholic ethic and the spirit of neoliberalism in a Transylvanian village

Author: Filippo Zerilli (University of Cagliari)  email
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Long Abstract

Drawing on Max Weber famous work on the origins of capitalism as a source of inspiration, this paper explores the relationships between an emerging greek-catholic ethic and the globalising culture of neoliberalism, and asks how both intersect with local identity politics in a Transylvanian village.

Outlawed for over forty years under socialist rule, the Romanian Greek-Catholic (aka Uniate) Church regained legal recognition soon after December 1989. Unsurprisingly, the actual reorganisation of the greek-catholic parishes experienced strong opposition (notably from the Orthodox Church) and had different outcomes in each community, as this process differently intersects with global, national, regional, and local dynamics. This paper highlights the strategies through which, after ten years of tension and intense religious and political conflict for the recovery of the old Uniate church, a fraction of the greek-catholic community of Mihalt (Transylvania) succeeded in obtaining financial support from the national government in order to build a new church. The purpose of the paper is to show how the ongoing construction of the new church is literally and symbolically reshaping the village boundaries. This happens along two main lines of discourse and social practices across the time/space coordinates evoked in the twofold structure of the workshop: 1) Using the history of the greek-catholic tradition as a rhetoric device in order to build a new ethic (made of universalism, Europeanism, market economy-ism, property and human-rightism etc.) which is constructed as an alternative to the orthodox (Eastern) one; 2) Establishing a network of transnational connections through various institutions and travel initiatives (such as the Caritas organisation, the twinship with a Spanish town, practices of religious tourism in Italy etc.) whose primary aim is to replace Mihalt within Western Europe as much as to bring Western Europe(eans) in Mihalt (including the ethnographer, ironically an Italian coming from the "Vatican town" of Rome). The paper also shows how the greek-catholic fraction is making neoliberalist values locally meaningful, articulating them in terms of historically documented and standardized images of local identity such as strength, pride, individual interest, land-owning, defence of one's rights, etc. all together characterising those 'down-to-earth men' of Mihalt (as one informant puts it).

A democratic peace-building

Author: Sandrine Lefranc (CNRS)  email
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Long Abstract

The proposed communication would deal with the capacity of democracy for conflict resolution in "divided societies" (i.e. potentially every society), analysed from the perspective of a "democratic peacebuilding", as opposed in particular to an elite-oriented peacebuilding. The point of departure of the study would be the emergence of a supposedly new model of conflict resolution (or "transformation") after a violent conflict. The model is more and more used by some international organizations (non governemental or governmental ones) to reconciliate divided societies while democratizing them.

This "democratic reconciliation" (reconciliation by means of democracy, democracy by means of reconciliation) resorts to different kinds of extensive dialogues (in "workshops" or "participative research", for example) and to specific tools that are supposed to produce societies of "unprejudiced people" ("radiopeacebuilding", interethnic kindergartens, etc.). These programs complement existing tools of democratic engineering (such as democratic institutions "capacity-building", the "strengthening of civil society", security forces training, etc.). They're equating a true democracy, defined precisely by its capacity more or less spontaneous of conflict regulation, and a true peace, that can't be, in the eyes of the peacemakers, undemocratic.

I would try to describe democratic peacebuilding processes and to analyse what can be learnt from this post-conflict situation about the capacity of democracy for conflict resolution. At the same time, resting my conclusions on an extensive empirical study (in different NGOs located in Europe, above all), I'd like to show how the expertise on "deliberative peace" can't be separated from issues existing in more consolidated democracies. The new peacebuilding model is, as a matter of fact, one of international developments of tools (known as restorative justice or alternative dispute resolution) first implemented in North America and other English-speaking countries, when the capacity of existing democratic institutions appeared to be eroded (with economic or racial conflicts).

Machiavellian liaisons: when equality meets caudillismo, and direct democracy meets the clientelist state…

Author: Heike Schaumberg (University of Reading)  email
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Long Abstract

Neoliberal adjustment in South America has not only brought into life highly adaptive forms of domination, but also sturdy, even if contradictory, expressions of militancy and defiance. Subaltern collective rejections of 'leaders', 'politics' and 'individualism' have been important identity markers of the Argentine uprising under and against neoliberalism, favouring and elaborating notions and practices of equality, direct democracy, and self-governance. The collective appropriation of the means of production, public and private spaces and buildings accompanied by such popular reconceptualisations of politics defied hegemonic strategies of domination, shaking and re-configuring the political foundations of clientelism and caudillismo. Yet, militancy, this paper cautions, is easily mistaken for revolutionary consciousness. The apparent temporary stalemate in the balance of forces in the aftermath of the 2001 popular uprising was veiling processes of both intensified class struggle and state restructurings, which dynamically transformed the conditions and dispositions of collective struggles and defiance. These intense and often contradictory political processes are contextualised through the country's worst economic crisis and growing popular insurgencies in the region. This paper critically examines the ways in which hegemonic practices and conceptualisations of 'leadership' and practices of domination are simultaneously reproduced and antagonised within subaltern movements since 2001 in two distinct localities in Argentina, Buenos Aires and the northern province of Salta, through dynamic interactions with the state, society, the past, and the family. Local hegemonic and counter-ideologies interweave at times coercively with Northern dominant and revolutionary ideologies into a complex design of local and regional historical trajectories and identities. Exploring the contradictions arising at the juncture of daily lived experiences in subaltern antagonist movements of both the limitations and penetrability of domination, allows us to understand the ways in which alternative ideologies and practices are sustained and mature in Argentina today.

Transition from exile to diaspora: changes in Hungarian expatriate identity-discourses after 1989

Author: Petra Andits  email
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Long Abstract

This paper analyses the transition of identity-discourses of the Hungarian expatriate community in Australia after the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. It argues that the year 1989 marks the end of the exilic period in the Hungarian expatriate community in Australia. This exilic period was characterised by the lack of institutional connection between Hungary and the Hungarian community in Australia and by reciprocal expressions of animosity. This paper argues that the fall of the Berlin wall indicated a turning point in this relationship by forming a new type of transnational connectedness. More specifically, this historical event indicated the transition from the exilic period to a period of potential diasporization of the Hungarian community in Australia. This paper attempts to demonstrate that the emerging diasporic identity discourse following 1989 implies a different spatial position of the Australian-Hungarian community in relation to Hungary in the imagination of the Hungarian expatriates. The assumption of the East-West opposition as a contraposition of spaces, one of "destruction", the other of "possibility", which occupied a focal point in exilic narratives is revisited and reformulated. For instance, while in the exilic imagination salvation could only happen from outside, the contemporary diaspora continuously expresses its desire for incorporation in the democratization of Hungary. In particular, diasporic discourses aim for the role of the 'diplomat' that mediates between the fresh democracy in Hungary and the well established democracy in Australia. Drawing on such discourses and practices in the Australian-Hungarian community after 1989, the paper demonstrates that the transformation from an isolated exile to a transnational diaspora is not a single step, but a problematic and often challenging transition.

The case of the oralman: the wrong kind of Kazakh?

Author: Catherine Alexander (Durham University)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper examines the case of Kazakh repatriates (oralman) to a 'homeland' space that represents a shocking break from the 'timeless' space they took with them. I consider the creation and use of this category, 'oralman', and the emergence of differentiated forms of citizenship.

During the Soviet period, the indigenous population of Kazakhstan was severely reduced by enforced collectivisation and famine from the 1930s onwards. This, combined with the gulag network which received thousands of deportees, resulted in a titular nation (Kazakh) population in 1991 which numbered less than 50%. In the early 1990s the President formally welcomed back (including promises of work and housing) Kazakhs who had left as a result of Stalinist oppressions: these people are known as oralman. The numbers who returned exceeded estimates; a quota system was introduced that limited numbers and increasingly began to specify professional qualifications. Many of the non-quota oralman were without papers and thus at best ineligible for help, at worst an illegal presence. More traumatic for many was finding the dominance of Russian in cities (returnees speak Kazakh). Equally difficult is the resentment of locals, whether Kazakh or not: oralman are frequently caricatured as excessively pious, speaking strange Kazakh, prolific; 'not like us' in other words.

Just as many now wryly identify themselves as 'Soviet citizens' pointing to other times and spaces, so these Kazakhs are simultaneously in place and displaced, stigmatised by the people they've come back to join. This suggests an anomaly at the root of calls for population increases: there is now the 'right kind' of Kazakh (professional, Russian speaking, urbanised) as opposed to the wrong kind─and the wrong kind is being reproduced. Citizenship is thus being redefined in temporal and spatial terms, with strong echoes of Soviet modernism and the time / space politics imbricated in that project. Post-Soviet Central Asia also adds a twist to the demographic concerns of European former socialist states as spatial divisions cut across ethnic groupings, emphasising the political nature of these categories.

Moral trajectories: continuity and change in Crimea

Author: Ina Vogelsang (Manchester University)  email
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Long Abstract

My research in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, concentrated on the every day representations of the past. Participants' identities as 'Russian' and 'Soviet' were questioned in a dramatic way with the break up of the Soviet Union and the creation of a Ukrainian nation. Not only did they loose their status as citizens of a world power but Ukrainian nationalist rhetoric also depicted 'Russians' as oppressors. They also found themselves confronted with the realities of an economic system that had been vilified by socialist rhetoric. One of the most striking features was the contradictory nature of memory narratives. On the one hand, the Soviet Union was depicted as a nation in which people worked hard, and cared for each other. Participants spoke of 'true communists' and 'the good that socialism brought'. On the other, they talked about corruption, mercenary relationships, senseless slogans and state oppression. Analysis of memory narratives revealed that although socialist rhetoric influenced memories, participants also appropriated socialist notions to uphold values that were important to them. Divergent narratives made it possible to manage conflicting representations of the past and the force of change. Socialist values were related to a 'Slavic' identity that was perceived as continuous and mostly unchanged since before the revolution. I argue that an approach to memory should not only examine cultural connections but also needs to investigate disconnection and selectivity as an integral part of the constructions of the past. This in turn makes it possible to analyse conflicting narratives as an expression of the interdependent influences of change, moral projects and identity.

Transitions: the life course in context (session 2 of the workshop)

Author: Sophie Day (Goldsmiths College, University of London)  email
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Long Abstract

Idioms of development have been discussed in the literature on history and I present parallels with questions that sex workers in London asked about their own lives. I explore the interplay between 'larger' and 'smaller' histories, arguing that sex workers' accounts illuminate widespread biographical conventions.