IP03
The threadbare margins of revolutions: painful participation and failed mutualities

Convenors:
Aet Annist (University of Tartu)
Daivi Rodima-Taylor (Boston University)
Discussant:
Don Kalb (CEU)
Location:
A-242
Start time:
1 August, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

Our panel focuses on the margins of revolutions, exploring the cracks of regenerated civil society and participatory democracy and the traps created by mutualities and reciprocities. What, who, how and why gets uprooted and destroyed when the gales of freedom and change storm the society?

Long abstract:

Anthropologists should, and mostly do, respond to the social realities of their time. The brave new world of social activism and protest movements has precipitated a new kind of anthropological approach that challenges the one-dimensional accounts of selfish and competitive human beings generated by advanced capitalism. The new millennium as well as collapse of the socialist system in Eastern Europe have seen an increased attention to people's ability to collaborate in the name of a revolution, reflecting the new hope brought by the end of the Cold War. Once this revolution grew old, the ability to resist the market and survive through diverse support networks and various forms of social capital became the focus of research. Amidst promises that research on resilience and resourcefulness offers, the margins of revolutions have slipped into oblivion. What has often gone unreported are ethnographically rich examples of not benefitting from collaboration or revolution; examples where collaborative networks have become so dispersed they have no substance (e.g. due to migration); where people have fallen through the cracks of civil society and participatory democracy as their capacity for intimate connections has been undermined due to poverty, marginality, hybridity etc. Our panel argues for a more subtle ethnographic approach to reciprocal support and collaborative networks of civic engagements. We welcome ethnographic cases where mutualities and reciprocities are unachievable or have become newly reconstituted traps generating unwelcome debt and obligations, damaging rather than improving the ability to survive and participate and reinforcing unilateral dependencies.