List of panels
1. Current Anthropology
2. Navigating scale
3. Navigating emotions
4. Feministisk antropologi – en omöjlig möjlighet?
5. Domesticating anthropology
6. New Media Technologies and Anthropology – New Prospects and Challenges or ‘Business as usual’?
7. Navigating Migration
8. From the Bank Machine to the Boardroom: Locating and Navigating Corporate and Financial Entities through Ethnographic Practice
9. Infrastructural locations
10. Plans, timing and coordination: people and resources navigating in social time
11. Comparative Municipal Ethnographies: Citizenship, Democracy and Protest
List of papers
1. Current Anthropology
This panel is open for those who wish to submit an independent paper on a theme not represented in the panels.
Moral creativity and Self-narration: A study of older female street vendors in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea (presentation of PhD research project)
Adelaida Caballero, Uppsala University
My project explores vulnerability at the intersection of old age, gender, and the postcolony through the study of older female street vendors in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, by focusing on these women’s strategies for narrative self-formation as exercises on moral creativity. Personal experience drawn from previous visits to the field (2014) suggests that the women’s group identity has been constructed by less-vulnerable actors through two opposite narratives; one of which portrays the women as inherently weak, and another that romanticizes them as one of the most empowered groups in contemporary Malabeño society. The women’s liminal standing is emphasized by their marginality in the wider socioeconomic organization —they’re ‘lost in time’, as one man put it, for they “keep doing what they used to do when there was nothing” (Caballero, 2015:42); i. e. before the 1990s discovery of oil that turned Equatorial Guinea into a rich albeit deeply unequal petrostate. How do these two narratives condition the way in which older female street vendors perceive themselves, their relationships with others, and their possibilities for fulfillment in late life? What kinds of existential awareness are produced by the clash between narratives on empowerment, and the women’s own embodied knowledge of the process of aging, illness, economic precariousness, and other markers of life at old age in the postcolony? I aim at understanding how these women transform, through the prisma of moral creativity, bodily and economic hindrance into moral strength and social resource; while parallelly exploring how moral ownership is exerted upon vulnerable groups by the discursive authority of the less-vulnerable majority.
Elina Troscenko & Giorgi Cheishvili, University of Bergen
The current political events around the globe mirror how borders and citizenship are regaining a momentum as crucial inclusion/exclusion mechanisms of the nation state. However, borders and community membership are not only controlled and produced by the state but they are also formed through local practices of borderlanders. Drawing on our ethnographies from Central Asia and the Caucasus we suggest the analytical concept of Borderland Citizenship as an effective lens to grasp the complexity of borderlands, where various actors interact and create a complex space which is lived and navigated by borderlanders. By developing the theoretical concept of Borderland Citizenship we explore how people in borderlands are navigating the landscape and engaging in practices that mark them as members of the borderland community. Using our ethnographic work we intend to illuminate how borderland citizenship is enacted through various practices such as social spatialisation, particular knowledge production and movement trajectories. We also look at how it produces dialectic relations between space and community.
“One day they are there to measure your land” – Land registration and emotional attachment to land in a Rwandan village
Anna Berglund, Lund University
In 2010, the Rwandan government undertook the registration of all arable land, and landholders now hold title on their plots for 99 years. Even though Rwandan peasants see an advantage of holding land title, they also struggle with the obligations that come with such a title, and claim that they now have obtained more limited control over their daily farming routines. Land holders must now follow the national agricultural modernization agenda, with mono-cropping of government approved crops, and risk seeing their land given to someone else if they protest or deviate from government demands. Furthermore, the peasants are not allowed to sell off a part of their plot to solve economical problems, as they could before. However, peasants have developed various practice to evade or resist this new system. Standard interpretations of Hirschmans’ exit (outmigration), voice (overt resistance) or loyalty as ways to relate to policy are not adequate to describe Rwandan peasants’ reactions to the land registration. Instead, my research suggests that there are social and even personal strategies at work to relate to a new reality, operating at the emotional levels of guilt and shame. This paper will discuss how Rwandan peasants react to the land registration and agricultural modernization policies, and how they enact strategies to feel in charge of their plots and source of livelihood, in spite of the authorities tight control over land.
Selling stories: fiction writing and the Irish publishing industry
Helena Wulff, Stockholm University
A writer’s life is not all spent at a desk. The writing world interweaves continuously with the publishing business. In a study of fiction writing as craft and career in Ireland, I have engaged in close-up ethnography of authors’ tours, public readings, on-stage interviews at literary festivals, and advertising through digital media. It has entailed a scrutiny of the diversity of the Irish publishing industry: small “boutique publishers,” as well as British and U.S. conglomerates. A key question involves what makes for success. In the longer run, there is the difference between remaining with Irish publishers and acquiring international fame through global enterprises. Before that, there is the early uncertainty of the interaction between individual creativity and editorial and publishing decisions. Rather than referring to a “bestseller code,” publishers admit that they lack precise tools to predict a book’s fate. After many rejections, Roddy Doyle’s immensely successful The Commitments began self-published. For published work, anonymous word-of-mouth judgments within the reading public matter greatly, but remain enigmatic. The literary world also has its identifiable gatekeepers and key events. For writers as well as publishers, reviews and reviewers count, and literary prizes mark establishment recognition. For small publishers, the primary goal is survival, for the global conglomerates greater profit. Every literary agent, editor and publisher in the study shows a genuine interest in literature. They are all passionate about finding new writers. While some are worried about the implications of digital technology, they all still believe in books.
Refining Socio-Cultural Reproductive Theories: Friends as Authoritative Reproducers of Educated Elites in Sierra Leone
Clementina Amankwaah, Uppsala University
Most socio-cultural theories related to the reproduction of young people into societal elites tend to focus on the family and educational institution as primary authoritative reproducers of children and young people. Here, friends/peers are often relegated to mere influencer status. This may be the general case in wealthier countries where education is nationally widespread and most family members are able to undergo a similar education as their wards. Yet in poorer countries where universal education is still a challenge (particularly in the global south), it is a rarer instance that guardians of educated elites would have completed higher or even secondary education to the extent that they are able to pass on various forms of cultural or/and social capital to their children. In these kinds of circumstances, friends/peer groups often become authoritative reproducers of fellow young students in place of families, more frequently than Big Men/Women and more intensively than staff of educational institutions. I will argue that educational reproductive theories as they stand are largely euro-centric in their concerns. In order to be more inclusive, we must also incorporate the role of peers as authoritative reproducers into conceptual frameworks. I will use a Sierra Leonean university as a classic case study to show an institution in a poor country facing educational challenges. Here peer networks can also often be authoritative ones for students undergoing processes of socio-cultural socialisation into becoming members of the country’s educated elites.
In(Ex)clusion and Social Reproduction: Navigating Life of the Garment Workers in the Neoliberal Labour Regime of Bangladesh
Mohammad Tareq Hasan, University of Bergen
The garment industry in Bangladesh employs more than 4 million people in about 4500 garment factories. Since mid-1980s, Bangladesh has been trying to advance step towards economic development. Therefore, government policies informed by notions of ‘neoliberalism’, ‘globalization’, ‘modernity’ led to the significant growth of export-oriented garment industries. The success of the Ready-made Garment (RMG) sector is exemplified from the fact that apparel was 4 percent of the total export in 1983-84 whereas it was almost 80 percent in 2013-14. Consequently, the growth of the garment industry in Bangladesh has led to a shift in labour regime in the country (from subsistence to wages) as inclusion of the economically backward section of the population occurred. Therefore, I have explored the role of garment industries to the development of wage labour and revealed the social reproduction process of the garment workers. I also highlight the socio-economic effects that ‘modern industry work’ has had on the workers. Besides, I have investigated the process that sustains the cheap labour flow in the industries and hence, system of capitalist accumulation persists. Thus, I hold that the process of accumulation, working class formation and proletarianization have created ‘inside-outside’ dialectic and process of exclusion in the existing form of neoliberal capitalism in Bangladesh. Further, I argue that the process of social reproduction in the neoliberal labour regime of Bangladesh entails a mix of coercions and appropriations of pre-capitalist skills, social relations, kinship structures, familial and household arrangements, consumption practices, gender roles and authority relations.
Heritage production and heritage destruction in Syria
Annika Rabo, Stockholm University
Since 2011 Syrians have witnessed the massive destruction of the built environment, including UNESCO-listed world heritage sites. The where and the what and why of this destruction is intensively debated not only those part of the so called heritage industry inside and outside Syria, but also among a more general Syrian and non-Syrian public. In this paper I will analyze how these debates also entail the production of heritage by using the examples of two UNESCO-listed sites – Palmyra and the old city of Aleppo – as well as ‘non-listed’ sites -the old city of Homs and the city of Raqqa. I last visited Syria in March 2011 but material collected since the late 1970s on the contestations over heritage will be used as a backdrop to analyze the current situation.
Navigating Professional Identity and Personality
Corinna Kruse, Linköping University
Crime scene investigators have become ubiquitous in fiction, often being portrayed as crucial to solving crime. Non-fictional crime scene investigators do not enjoy quite as much attention, but their work is still often a central part of criminal investigation – which places demands on how this work is performed. Becoming a proper crime scene investigator, I argue, is not only a matter of acquiring forensic skills, but also of learning to performing crime scene examinations through performing the self in a proper professional manner. This paper discusses how Swedish crime scene investigators are socialized into such a proper professional personality.
2. Navigating scale
Jenny Lindblad, KTH Stockholm
Asta Vonderau, Stockholms Universitet
“Globalization is a crystal ball that promises to tell us of an almost-but-not-quite-there globality. This is powerfull stuff for experts, politicians and policy makers” (Tsing 2000:332). Although anthropological fieldwork is an ultimately localized practice, in their fields anthropologists are constantly confronted with diverse modes and practices of scale making. For instance, questions and processes of climate change, economic developments, or issues related to migration are often framed as “global” by institutions and in political discourses. At the same time, they can be negotiated as local, regional, national, or global in more diverse or locally specific ways by other actors. Taking its cue from Tsing’s suggestion to not take “global forces and local places” as simply for granted, our panel makes scaling the object of its analyses.
• In which ways do different actors change and navigate their contexts of action and endow their concerns with different levels of significance?
• What are the material and political channels that enable (or hinder) scaling processes?
• How can scaling be investigated by means of ethnography?
• How do anthropologists themselves engage in processes of scaling while assembling and navigating their fields of research?
Scaling the urban: land use planning in Bordeaux
Jenny Lindblad, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
During the last six years, the inter-municipal administration Bordeaux Métropole has revised its land-use plan. It has been fabricated through translations from strategical document framed as aiming at sustainable development. Graphically, the plan is a myriad of signs, colors, letters, numbers, lines, and boxes. Hull (2012: 5) writes that “a planning map is not only an ideological projection of a bureaucratic vision of the city; this vision is embedded in the technical and procedural processes that link a map to roads, streams, and documents”. In a similar vein, I elaborate on the politics embedded in the land-use plan by inquiring its material qualities and how it is employed in building permit procedures. I draw on my ongoing fieldwork of encounters with public servants, councilors, urbanists and residents in various ways involved with the making and employing of the plan. Conceived through the ambition to enhance the agglomeration’s attractivity on European level (l’échelle européenne), the plan has been made through interaction between two administrative levels (la double échelle); metropole and local. While the multiple scales corresponding to various actors’ interests and desires are constantly negotiated in land-use issues, scales are generated through the existing and envisioned urban practices and environments which the plan mediates. I intend with this presentation to shed attention to the multiplicity of a ‘city scale’ which has become nominated a setting in which global climate change concerns are to be dealt with.
Rescaling the Nation’s Beloved Industry: Envisioning Tourism in Post-Revolutionary Egypt
Karin Ahlberg, School of Oriental and African Studies
In the aftermath of the 2011 Revolution, Egypt’s hitherto successful tourist industry went into deep crisis. During the Mubarak era, international visitors rose from two million in 1990 to 15 million in 2010, and tourism became an integral pillar of the national economy. Claimed to feed a fifth of the population, the industry was propagated by the political leadership as the “sector that leads the way” to prosperity. Due to its status, in 2011, tourism was not just a business, but everybody’s business, engaging Egyptians from all walks of life in discussions about the past arrangements of the sector, the present crisis and its future under a forecasted Islamist government. Based on twenty months of fieldwork in Egypt in 2011-2013 with tourism workers, bureaucrats and marketing actors, this paper illustrates how debates on tourism were infused with conflicting ideas on national values and security, global market realties and regional principles of hospitality. Paying attention to tourism as a ‘scale making device’ (Tsing 2000) that through physical infrastructures and flows of people conjure up and concretize geopolitical imaginaries (Hazbun 2008:xxvii), my analysis shows how conflicting imaginaries of scale –the global market, security on the ground, codes of Arab hospitality and threats to the nation – were at the centre of the debated sector. The paper brings insight into how larger questions of national values, future national prosperity, global openness and threats from the outside were made credible and legible through the vocabulary afforded by tourism.
Scuba-Divers Mediating Scale: Environmental Policy and the Making of Water
Rasmus Rodineliussen, Stockholm University
Water is fundamental for all life, and as such a truly global necessity. We know for a fact that not all humans have access to an adequate amount and quality of water; however, this fact does not imply that humans are caring about the water on our planet. In fact, water is subject to increasing levels of pollution, man–made pollution: plastic bags, bottles, cans, and much more are floating around in our oceans and rivers, polluting water, killing animals, and disturbing our eco–systems. Slowly but surely killing our planet. The NGO Project Aware has reacted on this—just as many other NGO’s, governments, and private persons—and they use policies to make local agents act locally on this global issue. As one interlocutor put it: ‘I use the tools provided by Project Aware in order to change my reality, which is Rio de Janeiro.’ Policy scales down the global into such words and tasks that fits a local setting. Then the agent acts, document, and broadcasts the message further, thus reversing the process, scaling up local into global. In this paper I intend to elaborate on the negotiation of scale between policy and agent in the setting of Rio de Janeiro, viewing the scale as a two–way–ride. Following a travelling policy allows anthropologists to not only observe the process of scaling, but also to play part in it by translating local concerns into such a wording that will be recognized and accepted on a transnational level.
Following the Wire, Navigating Scale
Asta Vonderau, Stockholm University
„What happens when we plug anthropology in, does it work?“ With these words, Dominic Boyer recently called for the investigation of electricity as an enabling power of contemporary social life. In a similar mode, my paper suggests to plug anthropology into IT infrastructures – the internet cable net – in order to discuss what aspects of urbanity are made visible in so-called “smart cities” if we investigate such cities from an infrastructural viewpoint, and what research perspectives the infrastructural approach enables more generally. “Infrastructure” in this context is regarded less as an object of study but rather as a methodology of scale-bridging which allows to relate the concerns of various actors across diverse scales and beyond the infrastructural/virtual, central/peripheral, global/local divides. My paper is based on empirical research of IT infrastructuring processes in Luleå and Hamburg.
The Scale of Things
Mark Graham, Stockholm University
This paper will look at the idea of scale through the optic of things. How can things help us to interrogate the meaning of scale in ethnographic practice? What kind of scale is needed to understand the presence of things? A familiar solution to the problem of scale is multi-sited ethnography that connects the local phenomenon encountered in fieldwork, whatever it happens to be, to wider processes accessible in other places. The study of commodity chains through attention to different actors and processes that are involved in the production of things is one familiar method to capture the complexity of things. But what happens when the things in question are no longer part of existing chains but are historical objects? In such cases it is probably more common to talk of a thing’s historical background or context, but what then is the difference between context and scale? Once a temporal dimension is introduced what stops us from moving back and forth in time when we examine scale? The paper draws on ethnography from Australia to explore this and other related questions. It uses examples from the early history of Sydney at the time of British colonisation in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century but moves back and forth through time to ‘scale’ (or contextualise?) these things.
3. Navigating emotions
Tania González-Fernandez, Stockholms Universitet
Ivana Maček, Stockholms Universitet
In the unpredictable and instable fields that many of us study today, emotions appear to play an important role for the socio-cultural as well as geographical navigation and re-location. This is perhaps most apparent in – but by no means limited to – research on labor migration, political violence, and refugees, fields of research that often overlap. Psychologists take for granted that emotions are decisive for our cognition and behavior, and that a large part of communication happens without words and other symbols, through our bodies and senses. But what about social and cultural anthropologists? How do we understand the role that emotions play in our research? Moreover, how do we use emotions in our research? Emotions have been part of anthropology from discipline’s early days, and some important work has already been done, notably edited volumes by Davies and Spencer (2010), Milton and Svašek (2005), and Wulff (2007), as well as Ruth Behar’s “The Vulnerable Observer” (1996). In this panel, we understand “navigating emotions” in two ways. Firstly, as emotions that in a decisive way influence how we and our interlocutors navigate in various socio-cultural, political and geographical contexts. Secondly, as the ways in which we deal with emotions in our work. Although the two intertwine, the latter focuses more on questions of methodology, while the first is concerned with analytical perspective and theory. We invite presentations that deal with some aspect of anthropological work with emotions: ethnographic, methodological, or theoretical.
Drawing on fear
Helen Underhill, SOAS, University of London
The relation between gender, sexuality/sensuality and field site has been widely debated in anthropology (Kulick and Wilson, 1995). Meanwhile, increasing attention has been paid to ethics and security, particularly in field sites characterised by instability and political violence. However, existing studies have not adequately addressed the ways in which researchers are motivated by overlapping, often contradictory, experiences of fear, before, during and after fieldwork. My paper is informed by my experience of – and response to – fear, during ethnographic fieldwork in the West Bank, Palestine. It focuses on moments of conflict, when ideals of purity in research design meet the exigencies and contingencies of fieldwork reality. I focus on my own experience, particularly with relevance to fear of sexual assault/gender based violence. However, an examination of emotional responses to perceived threats is relevant to any researcher who has experienced:
● fear of inadequacy or failure
● fear of the unknown
● fear reflected from loved ones/family
● fear of violence or injury
● fear of their own inability to cope
● fear of the authorities – that research may be thwarted, or you may be unable to return in future (particularly in locations in which state is hostile to the researcher)
● fear of not doing justice to your interlocutors’ experiences and values when writing up
I argue that honest reflection on these emotions can reveal important aspects of how one establishes an identity as a researcher in relation to one’s field site experience. What does fear make us do, and how does this shape our research?
Mirroring feelings in the field
Eva van Roekel, Utrecht University
This paper stems from a larger ethnographic research project that examines the emotional experiences of state violence, suffering and justice among victims and perpetrators of the last dictatorship in Argentina. Besides in-depth interviews and participatory observations at multiple social sites, I also systematically analyzed metaphors and silences, and bodily sounds and gestures in order to examine feelings in the field. Yet meaningful data on feelings sometimes resides neither in words, nor in texts or objects (Throop 2010: 772-773; Wikan 1990: 269). Therefore I also practiced a particular shared reflective methodology to study feelings in the field. In this paper I will elaborate in detail how I explicitly mirrored and discussed my own feelings with informants and tried to interpret them by their cultural logic. Subsequently, I will show that sharing and analyzing (uncomfortable) feelings is a respected social practice in urban Argentina, which has long historical and cultural roots. There has been anthropological critique about this way of understanding the other. Ethnographers’ feelings should lose their explanatory power away from home as they belong to narratives that are too different, and the fundamental differences between informants and fieldworkers’ feelings would delegitimize an inquiry into ethnographers’ feelings (Beatty 2010: 433; Hage 2010: 144-149). Yet I will argue that it is exactly within these differences that knowledge can be found. Unfamiliar with the dominant psychoanalytic practice in urban Argentina and the cultural value of guilt among many Argentines gave rise for vital cultural understandings about victims’ feelings and feelings in general.
Acronyms, people and fieldwork. Cognitive dissonance and the search for war
Sverker Finnström, Uppsala University
This paper explores the emotional tensions that built up between two European journalists who had teamed up to shoot a war documentary on northern Uganda. One of the journalists was looking for a kind of filmic war that he could not find in Gulu town, a booming hub of humanitarianism, leisure, business and administration. I, the volunteer broker, had to make some calls and the Ugandan military agreed to stage war in front of the rolling camera. In a parallel development, the second journalist was increasingly terrified, convinced that the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army rebels would attack us at any moment. It was as if the two journalists had arrived to entirely different places. A kind cognitive and emotional dissonance built up between them, as well as between them and their respective experiences of northern Uganda. My role as fixer took on a new dimension. I was no longer only negotiating between the journalists (as a team) and the local population in the effort to assist the filming. When communication between the two journalists broke down, I became a go-between and counselor. While I explore this tension, and my role in it, I also want to explore the disconnect that built up between the journalists and the Ugandans they encountered. While trying to save the film project as well as their own dignity and cooperation in a situation of amassed tensions, the journalists sacrificed the dignity and humanity of the people they were to portray in their documentary.
Dynamic Reflexivity: A Method for Navigating Emotions
Ivana Maček, Stockholm University
While fieldwork methods and techniques, as well as theoretical models, are often discussed in anthropology, less attention has been paid to how we actually form the anthropological knowledge, analyze our materials, and come up with new concepts and theoretical frameworks. In this paper I will present the process of analysis I have developed during my research on intergenerational transmission of war experiences among Bosnian families in Sweden. In both fieldwork and later analysis of materials, I have paid special attention to affects, particularly those that were strong and/or came as a surprise to me. The focus on affects in the study built on recent findings that emotions are crucial to the transmission of experiences of mass political violence between generations. In order to better understand the process of forming anthropological knowledge, I will introduce and describe the process of dynamic reflexivity, a process during which the attention is paid to how the central emotions in the material and the themes they are attached to, move between interlocutors and contexts. By tracing emotions attached to certain themes in narratives of parents with their own experiences of war, in re-narratives of their family members with no own experience of war, as well as those that I as anthropologist experienced as prominent during the fieldwork, I am able to present a rich and dynamic understanding of the phenomenon of transmission of war experiences between family members.
Who is afraid of Detroit? Situated Affects and Topographies of Fear in a Period of Urban Restructuring
Simon Johansson, Stockholm University
Often dubbed “the murder capital of America”, the city of Detroit has long been associated with danger and crime. As a national symbol of post industrialism, urban decay, economic and social collapse, Detroit occupies a unique position in the American consciousness. The fear of Detroit has spread far from its vicinity and is not simply concerned with certain areas of the city at certain times, but rather as a defining quality of the city as a whole. As there are those who will not even drive through the city on its sunken freeways, the affects of its urban spaces may be thought of as a kind of topography, one that presents obstacles and impassable terrain in what is otherwise an exceedingly flat landscape. Local sentiments, and different schools of urbanism, argue for a relationship between the state of the physical landscape and its infrastructures on the one hand, and feelings of fear on the other. Cracked sidewalks, the absence of street lightning, illegal dumping and ruined or dilapidated buildings can in this vein of reasoning be seen as productive of a subject’s feeling of danger. In this paper, I intend to complicate this logic by suggesting a reversed causality, examining instead how affect has been productive of particular spaces. Drawing on ethnographic examples from the city, this paper will sketch how affects are situated and structured in relation to race, class and age. Finally, as Detroit is currently undergoing a wave of urban revitalization, focused on infrastructure and material rebuilding, this paper hopes to broaden our understanding of urban change to also include forms of affective restructuring.
Living on the move and Facing North. Experiences, Emotions, and Feelings of Belonging in Central American and Mexican migrant transit
Alberto Baltazar, The University of Edinburgh
Migration is more than getting from one place to another, movement of migration implies many experiences, meanings, and practices performed by those who move. For undocumented migrants, transit acquires special weight in their lives. I pretend to focus on how migrants experience, feel, think and act while they are migrating; and showing how traveling without documents within contexts of risk and vulnerability, implies that migrants move in certain ways and live particular experiences that influence their subjectivity and relations with other migrants and non-migrants they met during their trip. This proposal is based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork carried out in several places where Central American and Mexican migrants pass/stop by within Mexico during their transit to the United States. During fieldwork, I observed and registered the everyday life of migrants within migrant shelters along the main undocumented migration routes. My contribution will address four main dimensions: 1) which are the experiences that migrants live in transit (implications of traveling in certain migratory routes and means of transportation, as well as moving/stopping by in certain places), 2) how these experiences influence their subjectivity (emotions, beliefs in God and the sacred, narratives about themselves, their family, and their homeland), 3) what are the characteristics of migrant groups (mobility, contingency, solidarity and rivalry, political engagement), and 4) how the sharing of a sociocultural condition and experiences (being foreigners, migrants, undocumented) during their trip allows the emergence of an identity, a sense of belonging to a community of migrants.
Navigating the migration space: Emotional Interactions and Negotiating vulnerabilities in refugee trails
Tekalign Ayalew, Stockholm University
Notions of location (where refugees strive to reach a particular destination location or make home after arrival) and navigation (across geographic, social and legal spaces) define many aspects of refugee migration: departure, journey and arrival in a destination. Emotional processes particularly shape refugee mobility, and vice versa. Long and fragmented refugee journey across dangerous migration pathways (for instance, across the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea) generate conflicting emotions such as hope, fear, anger and guilt, before, during and after the journey. Emotional interactions of refugees with fellow travellers, smugglers, families, friends and kin members in origin and diasporic spaces may generate networks of help and knowhow to survive vulnerabilities and violence en route and accomplish their mobility projects. Using ethnographic data, collected between 2013 and 2015, through multi-sited fieldwork conducted along the refugee routes that connect the Horn of Africa and Scandinavia (Ethiopia, Sudan, Italy and Sweden), this presentation will depict how emotional processes and interactions with relevant actors inform and shape refugee journeys. I will also discuss, on the one hand, how refugees’ social interactions and movement simultaneously produce hope of making migration dreams true and perceptions of fear of risks. On the other, how their intimate relations and emotional attachments with families and friends in diasporic spaces facilitate practical and economic organizations of their mobility.
“Welcome!” Emotional Politics of Volunteering for Refugees
Ove Sutter, University of Bonn
During the so-called „European refugee crisis“ in 2015, when rising numbers of migrants arrived in the European Union, numerous volunteers all over Europe participated in humanitarian aid activities for refugees. Drawing on an ethnographic case study of self-organized voluntary activity that occurred at the main station of a medium-sized German town, I discuss the emotional politics of civic engagement for refugees. I argue that by employing objects, performative practices, and media representations, the participants created a framework of meaning which provided emotionalized perceptions and interpretations of the event. In doing so, the volunteers were involved in the migration management of public authorities while simultaneously contesting migration policies and extremist right-wing politics.
Cinemaximiliaan: Transforming the Asylum Seekers’ Margins in Lubbeek, Belgium
June Lio Shu Xin, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
In recent years, the increase in asylum seekers arriving in Europe has led to a consequent increase in the number of asylum applications in Belgium. While their asylum applications are being processed, asylum seekers are received in temporary asylum centres located around Belgium where access to many of these centres is highly restricted and regulated. As such, Cinemaximiliaan – an initiative screening films regularly in asylum centres around Belgium – is a unique instance of an ‘outside’ intervention into the ‘inside’ of the asylum centres which requires closer ethnographic attention. Based on an ethnographic study of cinema screenings at the Lubbeek asylum centre, this thesis attempts to understand how the cinema is experienced by the asylum seekers at the centre, and how this experience, in turn, engenders transformation in these spaces on the margins. Ethnographic fieldwork at the asylum centre reveals how the makeshift cinema alters the perceived infrastructural aesthetics of the space and catalyses an experiential dialogue among its audience which leads to linkages and connections formed. I argue that the experienced spatial and social transformations engendered by the cinema reconfigures how life on the margins is experienced and blurs the physical and social boundaries that mark life in the asylum centre as marginal. By paying close attention to asylum seekers’ lived experiences and emotions as a method of inquiry, this thesis responds to the call in refugee scholarship for a greater consideration to life as it is lived so as to refrain from reducing refugees and asylum seekers to mere categories and objects.
Visual culture of affects: virtual, violent and viral
Nataliya Tchermalykh, The Graduate Institute, Geneva
This presentation will address the following question: how can anthropology investigate and theorize the emergence of “political affects” — a large spectrum of political emotions — associated with the contemporary cultural production ? By the term “political emotions” we understand an ensemble of feelings, leading to a direct affective response, arisen by a representation of a political reality (e.g. direct documentation of riots, violence, collective mourning, etc). When do they arise ? How are they produced/shaped ? How do they navigate from one individual to another ? Situating the scope of analysis at the juncture of visual anthropology/ethnography and recent critical theories of emotions, we will explore the example of a recent collective documentary “Maidan. Rough cut”, realized by 10 young filmmakers during the Ukrainian Maidan revolution in 2014. The chosen methodological approach is the one of a «native ethnographer», coming mainly from my personal experiences, first, as a direct participant and observer of the deploying Maidan Revolution, that I witnessed entirely between November 2013 and February 2014 and, second, as a spectator, witnessing the impact of the film on the public. Thus, my theoretical hypothesis, are based mainly on the participant observation, conducted in 2014, and a corpus of field notes.
“As I said, I saw the film twice, and twice I left the cinema hall with mixed feelings. From one hand, I was, as many of festival guests, mesmerized by the moving images from the screen and affected by the unique atmosphere of unity in the screening hall—and this most probably because I could associate myself equally with the cohort of young professionals, presenting their collective oeuvre from the stage and with some of their heroes and heroines, appearing in front of us. But from another hand, I was stunned by the ideological homogeneity and the evident coherence of the narrative about the events that were on stake, despite the fact that without any doubt the film was produced very quickly, hot on the traces of what happened on Maidan. After the film was over, I heard people standing up, chanting the national anthem in heart. My identification momentously changed for an urge of self-distancing. But the common dramaturgy seemed to be largely understood and shared by the festival audience in Kiev and Odessa : at some point, the emotional appeal of the images was so vivid, that it was difficult to keep any analytical distance from the collective condition, deploying between the ranges of sits, at the opposite side of the screen. How could one explain it ? “
The presentation will be an attempt to find an answer to this question and to discuss it with the panelists and the audience.
Love-Loss-Longingness: Subjectivity, Affect and Authenticity in Bhawaiya Folk Songs of North Bengal
Nasrin Khandoke, Maynooth University & Jahangirnagar University
In my paper, based on the Bhawaiya folk songs of North Bengal and their popular reception, appropriation, and reproduction, I will examine the subaltern subjecthood, and how it formulates the emotions and constructs the affective architecture. This genre of the folk song, known to have emerged from the Rajbangshi community of North Bengal, in India and Bangladesh, is famous for expressing the emotions of love, loss, and longingness of women and is composed with the detailed context of its subjects: women. This makes the Bhawaiya song special amongst Bangla folk music. The tune, lyrics, and performance of Bhawaiya trigger an atmospheric emotion, which is not bound to bodies and fixed subjects. In discussing the context of the emotional architecture of the Bhawaiya tradition, I want to examine the use of this subaltern/female subjectivity to create an emotional atmosphere and it’s effect on the other forms of popular cultural production. In order to analyze this, I examine the Bhawaiya song’s lyrical expressiveness and context, as well as performances and reproductions, gathered from my fieldwork in 2016 in North Bengal (India and Bangladesh). My method of research was historical ethnography, as the songs needed to be situated in a historical imagination to understand their emotional context and trajectory. I will focus on the sharing of the emotions of love/loss and longingness from the songs to the public behavior through which it is exhibited.
4. Feministisk antropologi – en omöjlig möjlighet?
Karin Ekström, Göteborgs Universitet
Sylva Frisk, Göteborgs Universitet
Susanne Åsman, Göteborgs Universitet
Klara Öberg, Göteborgs Universitet
I somras utkom antologin Mapping Feminist Anthropology in the 21:t Century (red Lewin/Silverstein). Redaktörerna påpekar den betydelse och inverkan grenen har haft, dels inomdisciplinärt men även hur den bidragit i uppkomsten och formandet av andra discipliner så som genusstudier och hbtq-genren. På senare år har så vitt skilda områden som maskulinitetsstudier, affektteori, teknologi- och vetenskapsstudier influerats av den feministiska antropologins insikter. Dess bidrag inom den utomakademiska, politiska sfären har varit påtagligt. Feministiska antropologer har varit aktiva i allt ifrån kampanjer som uppmärksammat brott mot mänskliga rättigheter till arbete mot miljöförstöring. De har bidragit till att avtäcka det manliga tolkningsföreträdet – mänskliga rättigheter – men också till att sätta under lupp det västliga dito (t ex Malmström och Dellenborg i diskussionen om kvinnlig omskärelse/könsstympning). Det är detta möte som denna panel vill undersöka. Mötet innebär en spänning, som även återfinns inomakademiskt, i mötet med genusvetenskapen, som är uttalat politisk och öppen med en feministisk agenda, en agenda som många antropologer hävdar är etnocentrisk och springer ur en västerländskt färgad feminism. Stämmer det? Den antropologiskt influerade filosofen Uma Narayan argumenterar för motsatsen: att ett sådant påstående är djupt etnocentriskt. Vi vill alltså undersöka spänningen som finns, dels interdisciplinärt, i mötet med genusvetenskapen, och dels utomakademiskt, i mötet med politik och aktivism inom det feministiska fältet. Vi välkomnar alla papers som ser samma potential som vi, i att undersöka den spänningen. Vi ser panelen också som en möjlighet för feministiska antropologer att mötas och diskutera öppet och förutsättningslöst, då det sker alltför sällan.
An awkward relation or a double bind? The feminist anthropologist caught and engaged in tensions between anti-racism and anti-sexism
Johanna Gullberg, Stockholms Universitet
My PhD was a comparative study of three antiracist and feminist activist groups working in or in relation to the Parisian banlieues (marginalized suburbs): AFRICA, Ni putes ni soumises (Neither whores nor submissives, NPNS) and Mouvement des indigènes de la République (Movement of the indigenous people of the Republic, MIR) that were positioned conflictually in relation to each other. These conflicting positions had emerged out of tensions spanning across a continuum of anti-sexist and anti-racist perspectives concerning women’s rights in France, and more specifically, the possibility of an antiracist feminism. Due to these tensions political activism dealing with rights issues of women with a colonial immigrant background, located in the banlieues ends up focusing either on sexist or racist issues. Anti-sexism and anti-racism end up in conflict with one another. It is this conflict that is at the heart of my study. However, early in my research it became clear that this involved some complexities for the ethnographer. I would and still define myself as a feminist anthropologist, both in relation to myself and to those inhabiting the field. During fieldwork both these roles, the feminist and the anthropologist, were set in play, activated and provoked through my movement within the tensions between anti-sexism and anti-racism. I was even provoked to the extent that I became politically radicalised from an anti-racist feminist perspective. Yet it also meant that I got caught up in the tensions itself. My contribution to this panel would be to discuss what this meant epistemologically as well as politically for my study and me as a feminist anthropologist.
Genus och prekärt arbete bland hembaserade arbetare på Filippinerna
Marie Larsson, Stockholms Universitet
Denna presentation handlar om förhållandet mellan genusteori och studier om arbetsförhållanden. Utifrån feministisk teori kommer jag att diskutera kvinnors prekära arbete på Filippinerna. Min utgångspunkt är så kallade hembaserade arbetare, d.v.s. personer som arbetar från sitt hem (eller i närheten) antingen som anställd arbetskraft eller som egenanställda. Filippinerna är speciellt intressant eftersom många av dessa personer idag är mobiliserade i nationella och internationella aktivistnätverk såsom Patamaba, Homenet Philippines och Homenet Southeast Asia. Min analys kommer framför allt att fokusera på den minskade arbetsmarknaden, osäkerheten i kvinnornas dagliga liv, och deras ökade rörlighet genom sin mobilisering för sina rättigheter som arbetare och kvinnor. Trots att det finns mycket skrivet om kvinnors arbete i den nedre delen av transnationella varukedjor, och inom den informella ekonomin, har den akademiska debatten om prekärt arbete framför allt fokuserat på unga män inom kulturella och kreativa industrier. Jag kommer att hävda att kvinnors erfarenheter av arbete är mycket mer komplext än binära genusdiskurser, eftersom de hela tiden alternerar mellan hem och arbete, reproduktion och produktion, samt det privata och det politiska. Slutligen kommer jag att föreslå att den ökade osäkerheten på arbetsmarknaden (och i människors dagliga liv mer generellt) kan förstås utifrån ett genusperspektiv. Min förhoppning är att utifrån exemplet Filippinerna kunna bidra till en öppen och förutsättningslös diskussion kring dessa frågor.
Lokala och globala mediala berättelser om sexuella övergrepp i det offentliga rummet
Sylva Frisk och Klara Öberg, Göteborgs Universitet
På nyårsnatten 2016 anmäldes över 500 sexuella övergrepp på kvinnor till polisen i Köln. Under de första dagarna på det nya året spreds nyheten som en löpeld i svenska media såväl som internationella. I rapporteringen av händelsen beskrevs övergreppen vara organiserade av grupper av män med ursprung i Mellanöstern och Nordafrika eller med ”oklar identitet”. Kopplingar till den ökade migrationen under 2015 gjordes. Ytterligare rapporteringar om övergrepp under nyårsnatten i andra tyska städer under dagarna som följde spädde på föreställningen att övergreppen varit organiserade och att det var ett nytt fenomen som hade med flyktingströmmen till Tyskland att göra. Lite senare under 2016 skrevs det också i svenska media om organiserade sexuella övergrepp mot unga kvinnor under festivaler med hänvisning till händelserna i Tyskland som ett slags gemensamt fenomen där ”patriarkalisk ’annan’ kultur” framställdes ut som drivkraften för övergreppen. Händelserna på svenska festivaler relaterades även till de övergrepp som hamnade på löpsedlar i samband med protesterna på Tahrirtorget i Kairo under våren 2013. En diskussion där kultur ställs mot struktur är ingenting som är nytt, varken i samhällsdebatt eller i antropologiska frågeställningar och analys. Debatten som utlöstes av anmälda sexuella övergrepp nyårsnatten 2016 påminner t.ex. på många sätt om slöjdebatten där kvinnors påkläddhet ställdes i fokus. Här kopplade rasifierade, nationaliserade föreställningar om kön och jämlikhet ett kulturellt och religiöst uttryck, i form av ett stycke tyg, till ett identitetsskapande i termer av ”oss” och ”de andra”. I det här projektet undersöker vi den svenska mediala rapporteringen och debatten om sexuella övergrepp på kvinnor i offentliga rum. Vilka meningsbärande symboler, bilder och begrepp används, formar och förhandlar förståelsen av dessa övergrepp och hur ser relationen ut mellan den lokala debatten och global rapportering?
5. Domesticating anthropology
Elizabeth Dacey, Master’s student, Uppsala Universitet
Karina Raña, Master’s student, Uppsala Universitet
The master’s degree is an instance where a myriad of topics converge. Divergent interests combine in an exceptional space that allows the students to work, talk and reflect on the opportunities and limitations of a specialised anthropology. In this regard, we are setting up this panel to discuss the sub-specialities that shape anthropology today from the master level experience. The sub-specialities appears to be a relevant topic not only from a career development perspective but also from the ways in which anthropology makes itself a space in the public debate. How do anthropologists reach the public sphere? How do the subspecialities contribute to a better understanding of what anthropology is and how is it a tool for better and more inclusive societies? These are the questions that we want to answer from different perspectives, and that is why we encourage other master’s students to present their work in order to debate the crossroads between our own researches, the current situation within anthropology and the need of inserting anthropology into the public discourse.
Cultural status of female bodies in Sweden. Case study: Breastfeeding in public space
Jennie Sjödin, Uppsala University
Sweden is often described as one of the most gender equal countries in the world, scoring high in women’s participation in labour and politics. Still cultural understandings of gender difference are persisting, for example the culturally ambiguous understanding of female bodies. Women’s bodies seem to a larger extent then male bodies, to be surrounded by cultural taboos, categorized as no appropriate to expose in public. In spite, or because, of those taboos, female bodies are simultaneously fetishized and exploited in commercials and advertising to attract customers with sex appeal. The methods and theories of anthropology can be used to investigate the intersection between taboo and exploitation, as well as different kinds of resistance connected to it, to gain a deeper understanding of how gendered relations of power reproduces and evolves. The discussion will be based on my thesis, in which the debate in Swedish media, about breastfeeding in public space is used as a starting point to render visible such ambiguous classifications of women. The relevance of such understanding extends beyond the academia and is applicable to work targeting gender equality in general, and in dialog with breastfeeding parents in particular.
Heritage, collective memory and history in the making: discussing public anthropology drawing on fieldwork at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum.
Louise de Vries, Uppsala University
The concept of heritage has many different meanings. Likewise, our ideas about what is history are very subjective. Still, the museums in which the physical and immaterial manifestations of our common pasts are stored and put on display are widely presented to visitors as somehow showing and engaging with an absolute and static ‘truth’. In this paper the sociocultural possibilities and restrictions related to ethnographic museums in particular are discussed. In which different ways do ethnographic museums influence society (and vice versa)? Should they be approached as being problematic? What kind of future do institutes like this have in the postmodern society? Drawing on findings from fieldwork focussing on the Slovene Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana, Slovenia, some central aspects in museum anthropology will be brought up. Finally, the paper reflects on the role that anthropological research can play in the development and design of (ethnographic) museums and other heritage sites. An effort will be made to open up a discussion about how ethnographic data could possibly be used in practical environments outside of the academia to contribute to social change and, ultimately, a more inclusive society.
Creating and enforcing norms in Swedish institutions: a legal anthropological inquiry
Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius, Uppsala University
In Sweden, there is widespread acceptance of legitimacy of the established structure and authority bestowed state institutions, authorities and their accompanying procedural norms. While the outcomes can generate public discourse, it is rare that the way they are created and enforced is queried. Political and socio-economic events can play a role in the framing of these practices. A better understanding is imperative for the most vulnerable among the actors; they normally have the weakest voice. This paper is a work in process towards my thesis. The aim of the thesis is to examine what the role of legal anthropology within state agencies in Sweden and how norms specific to these agencies are formed and enforced. The discussion of how the sub-discipline approaches these issues and can present the related phenomena to a larger audience is virtually non-existent in Sweden and rather needed. It is my intention to examine the Migration Board and its court, as well as the Swedish Board of Social Welfare by conducting interviews with the actors who are in decision-making positions in these institutions and related to them during the spring of 2017. The main focus will be on groups often associated with vulnerability, i.e. women, children and LBGQT.
Counteracting the segregated city: the discipline at home
Karina Raña, Uppsala University
The tensions produced by the urban transformation and gentrification of cities are usually hidden behind discourses of modernisation and upgrading of the built environment. However, the social consequences of such developments appear before us as processes of almost neo-colonisation within the city. In this regard, anthropology has something to say and stances to take. The aim of this paper is to discuss the role of urban anthropology in highlighting issues that not always are self-evident when proposals of urban renovations are put forward. Discussing how the discipline is approaching such phenomena and presenting the elements at stake to a larger audience seems needed. Empirically, this paper bases on observations carried out in Stockholm during different actions of groups counteracting gentrification between 2015-2016. These organized groups are trying to preserve not only the right to housing and the city but also certain values implied in the Swedish housing model developed so far. At the same time, they are also coming up with more autonomous and bottom-up understanding of the organisation of the urban spaces. The experience of a segregated city and an increased racialisation of some boroughs emerge as relevant topics for anthropologists working at home.
6. New Media Technologies and Anthropology – New Prospects and Challenges or ‘Business as usual’?
Carolina Holgersson Ivarsson, Göteborgs Universitet
Tova Höjdestrand, Lunds Universitet
‘Being there’ – the anthropological call – now implies a presence also in the ‘digital everyday life’. Anthropologists conduct desktop fieldwork and ethnography in ‘virtual reality’ as a case in itself, or when for practical or security reasons certain milieus are restricted to us. What kind of methodological and ethical dilemmas does this engender? Social media has dissolved and reconfigured the boundaries between public and private, work and leisure, place and space. How do we navigate and locate ourselves in this fluid field? Does it present us with new challenges and possibilities or is it just another dimension and extension of social life that falls under the scope of the holistic approach, thus not in need of particular attention or treatment? In this panel we wish to open up for discussions on the methodological challenges and theoretical implications of new media technologies. Our own research concern viral politics, identity, nationalism and social media but we invite all kinds of perspectives and topics on new media technologies.
Facebooking, friends and fake news in post-war Sri Lanka
Carolina Holgersson Ivarsson, University of Gothenburg
There has been an increased interest and attention, both in academia and more widely, of social media and its possible impact upon politics and polarization. Issues such as ‘fake news’, ‘filter bubbles’ and ‘eco chambers’ have come into the limelight. Research on ‘big data’ and the affordances of technology are called for but also on the ‘little stories’ that look beyond the digital content, the likes and shares, into the lived everyday life of users and apply a lens from within/below. In what ways does social media influence how individuals look upon the world and shape identity and images of Self and Others? What kind of norms and values are at play? How are they shaped? By who/what? The tech industry has been somewhat reluctant to apply ethics in the creation of technological tools and platforms, ‘it is up to the users to be moral’, but voices are beginning to be raised about the need for ‘moral imagination’ in technology and to make ‘humane technology’ that e.g. encourages kindness and address ‘fake news’. This presentation builds upon research among young Sinhala-Buddhists in Sri Lanka. In setting out to study the post-war upsurge of neo-nationalism and Buddhist-Muslim tensions experiences in the field lead to incorporation of a digital dimension that was not planed at the outset. This gave way to new insights but also questions of how to do research, analyse the material and ‘being there’.
Preliminary Notes on the Indonesian Click Farm
Johan Lindquist, Stockholm University
There is an increasing global interest in ‘click farms’, a term that evokes an industrial setting for workers who click on ads, like, follow, view, or rate digital content for a living, on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Through manual labor, software management, or a combination of both, click farms allow customers to raise their social standing, manipulate rankings, build site traffic, increase page views or improve the performance of ad campaigns. The limited research on click farms thus far has focused mainly on evidence from the internet itself, notably, who apparently has been purchasing followers as well as some journalist reports. In contrast, I begin with preliminary research and interviews with indivduals who sell followers in Indonesia. As such, I ask: what might click farms reveal about the emerging global digital economy and digital labor in the global south. Who run these click farms, how are they organized, and where are they located? Do they, like call centers, have a particular urban concentration? What kinds of social relationships organize these enterprises: patron-client relations, kinship, contractual wage labor? What forms of methodology does an anthropology of click farms call for?
Being there but not there or there. Digital anthropology outside disciplinary contexts
Rebekah Cupitt, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Does anthropology need to re-think what it means by the digital and re-examine its methods? Have we passed the point where digital ethnography is a relevant concept and if so, why? In this paper, I want to talk about doing research on social worlds that incorporate digital technologies and exist in the ‘digital realm’. Using examples from a recently completed research project on video meetings in Swedish Sign Language at Swedish television’s editorial for programming in Swedish Sign Language (SVT Teckenspråk), I call into question what counts as new media technology, when and why it counts, and how this may or may not affect ethnographic methods. The empirical examples in this paper come from a technologically saturated field-site – one where media technologies intermingled with the everyday and were mundane. Whether video meetings count as new media technology in anthropological terms and what ‘being there’ means in this context turned out to be complex. This complexity is especially evident when anthropological research is conducted outside its disciplinary contexts in fields where an emphasis on new media become redundant, for example in Human-Computer Interaction? By unpacking my research methods and interdisciplinary research position, then articulating their relations to both traditional canons of anthropological methods and digital methods in ethnography, I propose an updated research paradigm for anthropological treatments of new technologies and the social worlds in which they are embedded.
Smilies and Shopaholics: Facebook shopping groups as a field and phenomenon
Hanna Wittrock, Lund University
The purpose of the paper is to discuss Facebook shopping groups from an anthropological perspective, inspired by fashion studies and consumer culture theory. More specifically the study aims to explain how Facebook shopping groups, as a growing phenomenon in the collaborative economy, relate to late modern consumerism, as well as to fashion, on the one hand, and the trend of sustainability and second hand consumption, on the other hand. The empirical basis for this study is derived from nethnography and interviews with a number of group members in nine buy- and sell groups on Facebook. The study shows that even though Facebook shopping is one of the most popular web-based, fashion-related, consumer phenomena globally right now, it challenges a common understanding of fashion as a phenomenon driven by superficial consumption of passing fads. The main difference is the pursuit of advanced knowledge, community and trusted social relationships. In many of the groups sustainable consumption is part of the allure. The findings also show that the groups can be highly addictive. The study indicates that shopping groups can be considered to be both a mirror of, and reaction against, globalized late modern consumerism. A central aspect of the small talk in the shopping groups on Facebook are the so-called emoji symbols, that is, emotional symbols such as hearts, roses, blushing smileys, thumbs and, as in the opening quotation, a girl who dances. The emojis also appear to act as a lubricant in the communication, especially in financial transactions. Communications online both resemble and do not resemble communication offline. The main difference is that the contact does not take place face-to-face. Although emoji symbols are not able to create lasting social ties outside the groups, they soften the communication in cyberspace, which might otherwise be marked by hostility. currency. Perhaps Malinowski’s interpretation of the Kula as a way to create unity and solidarity in a vast and fragmented archipelago is also applicable amongst shopping groups on Facebook. They function as micro-communities with clear rules and trust amongst group members. Trust becomes necessary to enable financial transactions with loved things without any other security than a benevolent smiley. As a cherished currency, trust fulfils the emotional need that forms the basis of all human relationships. Compared to traditional fieldwork in a remote location, which may miss all the amenities of the home environment, a study online may seem to be simple and easy. The work, however, has certain difficulties. These concern mainly ethical questions. Until the 1970s, reflections of the fieldworker’s ethnographic activities in a moral sense were rather limited. Recent decades, however, have witnessed the development of regulations prescribing how to conduct fieldwork ethically. When fieldwork is transferred to the virtual world, however, a number of grey areas arise. The blurred delineation between the private and public, which is typical for much of the interaction online, demands that the nethnographer be continually reflective. What is right or wrong in the ethical sense is not set in stone, but must be considered in each individual study
7. Navigating Migration
Nina Gren, Lunds Universitet
Karin Norman, Stockholms Universitet
This panel focuses on concrete and/or symbolic navigation in relation to international migration, either en route or when attempting to settle in a new (or familiar) place. As a point of departure, we think of navigation in relation to migration as attempts to plan or direct or simply handle legal, political, economic, cultural and social processes that aim to locate the migrants in one way or the other. Locations can both be thought of as a concrete place-making (e.g. building a house in a new country or finding temporary shelter) as well as more symbolic feelings of belonging. We welcome presentations that discuss the practices of different types of migrants (e.g. asylum seekers, IDPs, deportees, EU migrants, transnational families) or the practices of people working or volunteering with migrants (e.g. bureaucrats at migration authorities, social workers, language teachers, aid workers). What meaning-making and everyday lives emerge when migrants navigate migratory processes? What obstacles and possibilities are encountered? How are volunteers and professionals navigating legal frameworks and work ethics when meeting migrants of various types? How do migrants navigate language schools as well as a new language?
Diversity Work and Religious Belonging as Navigation: The example of Mekane Yesus and Church of Sweden
Kristina Helgesson Kjellin, Svenska kyrkans forskningsenhet and Uppsala University
This paper describes and analyzes religious belonging among migrants as well as diversity work among employees in Church of Sweden as forms of navigation that is interpreted and given meaning through the Christian conviction. Building on anthropological fieldwork in Church of Sweden in one of the suburbs of Stockholm, where there is a local Ethiopian Mekane Yesus-church incorporated into the work of the parish, the paper brings up concrete examples of how leaders on both sides are striving to find ways forward in order to increase cooperation and understanding. At the same time, the paper illuminates that the reasons why migrants chose to come to the Mekane Yesus-church is rather to speak and worship in one’s language and to experience belonging – processes that can be understood in terms of navigation in a situation of living in diaspora- and not to be part of diversity work as promoted by the church leaders. Social, cultural, and religious/spiritual capital that belonging to an African church fellowship in a situation of living in diaspora offer, are furthermore perspectives raised in the paper. However, there are also individuals that strategically are striving to leave the African fellowship and see Church of Sweden as a gateway into the Swedish society, examples that clearly point at the individuality of migration experiences. The paper elucidates the role of churches as places where identities are being negotiated and contested, both among the employees that are involved in diversity work and among migrants that for various reasons chose to come to church.
Multiple Marginalities and the New Diversity in Croatia: Spatio-temporalizing Group Boundaries on the Periphery
Igor Petricevic, Stockholm University
Croatia has traditionally been seen as a sending country, in terms of the forced migration during the 1990s war that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia. Although emigration continues during the economic crisis, the post-war period characterised by EU integration, as well as the intensification of the western Balkans route of migration resulted in the increased numbers of asylum requests in Croatia. Alongside around three hundred people whose asylum request has been approved, additional five hundred people are located in a migrant reception centre in Dugave neighbourhood located on the margin of Zagreb capital. Considering this is the most important place for the arrival of migrants, their presence is marked by specific public and discursive visibility despite the small numbers. On the one hand, the arrival of new migrants has been accompanied by discourses about the role of the experience of the 1990s war in making Croatian citizens more receptive to the refugees, thus understanding the similar experience of exile-induced victimhood as forming the base for empathy. On the other hand, the arrival of migrants also revealed certain xenophobic sentiments echoing how the 1990s war was embedded in a project of (homogeneous) nation-building according to ethnic lines. By relying on ethnographic fieldwork in the neighbourhood, the research will try to answer the question of how is the new diversity in Croatia negotiated in daily life through the politics of empathy and xenophobia and with regard to the role of space (city periphery) and time (memories of war) within a field of multiple marginalities.
Migrant/Ethnic Minority Activism Revisited
Piotr Goldstein, The University of Manchester
Ethnic minority and migrant activism are typically assessed in the context of the engagement of migrants/ethnic minorities in their own minority/migrant institutions (religious, political, etc.), or organisations formally detached from these but still focusing on own-group advocacy and/or promotion of culture. This paper instead focuses on situations when migrants and members of ethnic minorities are involved in activism for non-minority causes. In such initiatives/groups (co-)run by ethnic minorities/migrants, the origin of members is not necessarily hidden but neither is it highlighted or considered relevant. Thus, it is only through ethnography that one can realise that Polish is lingua franca at many Vegan Picnics in Manchester, Hungarian within some of the largest cycling advocacy groups in northern Serbia and that Poland’s Books-for-Prisons is coordinated by female Jewish activists. Still, since these initiatives are not concerned with minority/migrant issues but with those relevant to the entire local community, it is unlikely for them to be looked upon in studies and discussions concerned with ‘minority/migrant activism’ or minority-majority relations. Using examples from a multi-sited ethnography project with case studies in Eastern and Western Europe, the proposed paper offers to explore the nature of such minority/migrant activism. Why do migrants/ethnic minorities engage in, or even initiate, endeavours spreading beyond the interests of their own community? What is the role of such engagement within their broader ‘navigation’ among the host society? How dramatically do opportunities to engage vary between different migrant/minority groups? Finally, does studying this activism allow us a better understanding of ethnic minorities/migrants and of minority-majority relations?
Looking for a Way ‘Out’ of Palestine
Victor Nygren, Stockholm University
Local and global conditions are shaping young people’s migration aspirations in Palestine. In the context of uncertainties due to limited life choices and volatile political conditions, many young people are unable to fulfil personal life projects and family expectations. With the expansion of interconnections to global systems and access to information on unequal global relations and patterns of consumption, limited access to formal migration channels as well as encountering daily flows of diasporic remittances, young people have begun feeling deprived and excluded from global connections. Moreover, NGOs, international peacekeeping initiatives and other kinds of international presence and discourses about migration as well as the Palestinian diasporas significantly shape the hopes and motivations of young people wanting to migrate. While the politics of space in Palestine remains at the heart of political struggle, the will to leave has come to be an integral part in the understanding of spatiality. How do these migration aspirations relate to spatial concepts such as ‘sumud’1 and the every-day-life of occupation? How does a desire for labour migration and the opportunity to ‘just live’ without the restrictions ‘at home’ fit into narratives of forced migration within or from Palestine? Furthermore, what are the strategies employed in looking for a way out and how do they play into local and tanslocal economies, politics, and spatialities?
Young Palestinian males navigating integration and aspirations for social mobility in Sweden
Nina Gren, Lund University
This paper discusses the accounts of some young male Palestinian refugees in Sweden. They had applied and been accepted for political asylum for slightly different reasons and had arrived from different parts of the Palestinian diasporic space. However, they had more in common than what divided them. At the time of fieldwork, they were enrolled in a state-run integration program, which included language courses, internships, state-subsidized employments and evaluations of degrees and of professional experiences. But a liveable life for my interlocutors was not just about safety, work and political rights such as asylum, democracy and future citizenship. They all wanted to continue their higher education and secure a good social position. Their political reasons to flee were interconnected with an imaginary of (social) mobility (Appadurai 1991; Salazar 2011). In their eyes, being enrolled in the integration program, coordinated by the Swedish Public Employment Service, was not a useful way to reach this goal. On the contrary, they felt that Swedish bureaucracy and individual bureaucrats were unpredictable and hindered rather than supported their aspirations. There was a sense of meaningless-ness and frustration to their lives in Sweden. The individuals I involved in my study navigated these experienced constraints in different ways. In this paper, I will discuss the strategies my interlocutors employed when trying to plan, direct and handle the “Swedish System” as to regain power over their lives.
8. From the Bank Machine to the Boardroom: Locating and Navigating Corporate and Financial Entities through Ethnographic Practice
Daniel Bodén, Uppsala Universitet
Ulrika Persson-Fischier, Uppsala Universitet
Elisa Maria Lopez, Uppsala Universitet
Corporations and financial institutions are ubiquitous features of life in the anthropocene. From multi-sited corporate spaces of production to the ontological challenge of “making the familiar strange”, this panel asks how ethnography can help navigate corporate and financial entities as they co-produce social space and place, moralities, and modernity in a variety of sociocultural contexts. This panel invites papers which explore corporations and financial institutions as complex actors and actants (Latour 2007), while remaining attuned to the risks of reifying them as metaphysical subjects, possessing coherent, unitary rationalities, or intentionality (Welker 2012). We welcome papers including, but not limited to, engagements with these institutions as moral actors (Rajak 2011); assemblages (Tsing 2014), producers of knowledge and technology; instruments of political and social change (Kirsch 2014); or exploring the methodological challenges of fieldwork with corporations/financial institutions. What new ethnographic forms might we develop to apprehend these? How might social theory in anthropology and ethnology benefit from innovative, creative, and alternative methods as we seek to understand corporate and financial worlds?
Service Society, satisfaction and the process of automation
Daniel Bodén, Uppsala University
In many workplaces, words like “accessibility”, “reception” and “customer satisfaction” have, since the sixties become increasingly important symbolic values. Together they often serve as quality markers and performance indicators that allow both corporate and public actors to organise work and to stage themselves as credible in the eyes of potential customers or investors (often with a growing difficulty distinguishing the ends from the means). In this paper I interpret symbolic values of this kind as expressions of how many late modern businesses and organizations have come to, as they say: put the customer first, work with customer focus, and to consider customer-driven processes as unshakable tenets. The paper describes how such management philosophies testify to how the “Customer”, has been given an increased role in the governing of labour process under late capitalist modes of production. Through ethnographic examples from working life I trace the changes in focus from products and production to consumption and customers back to the socio-material process of automation – a process in which investments in constant capital has led to new divisions of labour, forcing organizations to prioritise service.
When Culture is Everywhere: The case of financial risk management
Ulrika Persson-Fischier, Uppsala University
This paper considers how the concept of “culture” has become increasingly used and important within financial risk management. It is based on the findings from low-intensive, long-term “collatoral” (Marcus 2013) fieldwork, in the form of dialogical lecturing within financial risk management, at which anthropological perspectives on risk management are discussed with practitioners in finance. It takes as point of departure Ulf Hannerz (1993) discussion on culture, and how it has come to be used not only to denote commonalities between groups of people, but also to describe individual as well as universal human traits. This paper argues that the concept of culture is deployed within financial risk management with the aim to avoid or minimize financial risk and crisis. There indeed are cultural commonalities within the financial sector that effect the way risk management is carried out and that result in both financial risk and crisis. However, the way “culture” is understood within financial risk management is rather, one the one hand, as individual traits (of persons or singular corporations) or, on the other, as universal traits (“greed”). This means that they way culture is understood within this sector, makes they way the sector as such both rests upon, recreates and depends upon common, cultural understandings which uphold practices that result in crisis, invisible. The way “culture” is understood within financial risk management thus makes it impossible to get sight of, deal with or prevent the way financial culture actually causes financial risk and crisis. This paper then ends with a discussion on how, as culture is everywhere, also within financial risk management, culture is understood an deployed in ways different, or even contradictory to anthropological understandings and practices. How does anthropology react to this? Do we become upset that our favourite concept is kidnaped and used differently to how we might like it to be? Do we simply note that emic understandings of culture in various concepts differ from anthropological understandings, and study this as a peculiar practice of our informants? Or is anthropology put at work in a dialogical collaboration about different understandings of the concept of culture, and the consequences of them as they are used in practice, with the hope of better mutual understanding, and possibly also a transformation of how culture is conceived – in this particular case – for transformed financial risk management? The latter view is the view of this paper
Managing Displacement: Corporate views of Community Relations in the relocation of Kiruna, Sweden
Elisa Maria Lopez, Uppsala University
In 2004, the Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB announced that iron mining in the towns of Kiruna and Malmberget had caused irreversible ground deformations, necessitating the displacement and resettlement of ten thousand people – a quarter of the Ore Fields population – over the next thirty years.While Sweden has recently sought to bolster an international image as a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)-conscious nation – even appointing an official CSR Ambassador – CSR is surprisingly absent as a discourse or phenomenon intra-nationally. LKAB representatives claimed that CSR did not exist in the Ore Fields, and that their program Samhallsömvandling (Social Transformation), created to manage the company’s role in the displacement, was the closest thing to CSR the company had, despite the region’s modern history as a “zone of graduated sovereignty” (Ong 2006) due to the needs of mining and other extractive resource industries. In this paper, I explore LKAB’s discourses about the relocation of Kiruna as a means to understand the company’s views about social relations between the company and the Kiruna community, and in particular approaches to the concepts of responsibility, care, and obligation.
9. Infrastructural locations
Gabriella Körling, Stockholms Universitet
Camelia Dewan, Birkbeck & SOAS
Ulrika Persson-Fischier, Uppsala Universitet
This panel sets out to engage with the current discussions about infrastructure by reflecting on the relation between infrastructure and location. As underlined by Larkin (2013) infrastructure are things but they are also the relation between things. Infrastructure is central to circulation and connectivity, including the movement of goods and people, as well as electricity and water provision, and less visible flows such as data/digital networks. However, at the same time as infrastructural development often conjure up visions of modernity, economic development and promises of connection they are equally prone to produce disconnection and reproduce inequalities. For instance, roads and railways and electricity grids, might strengthen some places through improved connectivity at the same time as they bypass or isolate others. In order to further explore how we can think about the relation between infrastructures and location we invite contributions that through empirical cases explore how places, sociospatial dynamics and socio-environmental relations, are constructed and/or transformed through different kinds of infrastructures (infrastructural interventions). We also welcome more theoretically and methodologically oriented contributions that reflect on the various ethnographic locations (e.g. planning offices, government ministries, construction sites, towns and villages etc.) and theoretical frameworks through which infrastructure can be approached ethnographically.
Temporal locations of water infrastructures: The Majes Siguas Special Project
Susann Baez Ullberg, University of Gothenburg
The Majes Siguas Special Project is a regional irrigation development project in the Arequipa Region in the south of Peru, created with the aim to supply agricultural and urban users with water by transferring it over 100 km from the Andes mountain ranges to the plains of Majes and Siguas. The project was proposed already in the early 20th century, but the existing water infrastructure, consisting of dams, channels and tunnels, was built by the Peruvian State in the 1970-80’s. An extension of the infrastructure that will double the water capacity and enable the expansion of the agro-export economy in the region, is currently underway. This second phase of the project, the so called Majes Siguas II, is a private-public transnational collaboration. Despite being officially inaugurated by Peru’s president in 2014, the project up until date is still only in its starting stage. Studying projects of infrastructural development such as the Majes Siguas Special Project allows us to connect, not only the institutional, financial, material and conceptual arrangements through which such technopolitical systems and cultural are configured, but also the multiple temporalities that shape them. While infrastructures materialize spatial connectivity, they are also temporal interfaces of histories, rhythms and ordering. This paper builds on ethnographic research underway, and reflects on the many temporal locations of water infrastructural projects, and how such locations can be studied ethnographically.
Imagining a city through an airport
Daniel Escóbar López, Stockholm University
After hard negotiations, the government expropriated part of the lands of a peasant village in 2013 to construct an international airport located in a rural district of the Peruvian Andes. This construction, regarded as one of the biggest infrastructural endeavor of the last decades, was celebrated by the mass media in the city as a step towards “the progress and modernization of the region.” From then on, apart from triggering land conflicts, this airport is perceived as a turning point in the history of this district. While some urban planners underline the necessity to conserve the traditional “Inca” and rural landscape to continue attracting tourists, many villagers assert that this district will become a city “like Cusco or Lima.” Villagers seem to have ambiguous feelings about this. While they welcome urban services; they also concern about the land invasions, violence, crime and pollution that is often associated with the image of cities in Peru. Hence, by following the case of the plans to construct this international airport, I aim to explore the way this infrastructure has prompted reflections about the kind of place this district is and in what way it will change in the future with the construction of the airport.
Infrastructure and overheating – the case of a new cruising quay in Visby, Gotland
Ulrika Persson Fischier, Uppsala University
Ethnographically this paper deals with an infrastructural project on the Island of Gotland, Sweden. Together with the multinational corporation Copenhagen Malmö Port, the county of Gotland is currently construction a new quay. The new quay will host large cruising ships, touring the Baltic Sea on their way to St Petersburg. The quay will be inaugurated in April 2018, and host the larger section of cruising ships. This means that up to 6000 passengers will arrive at and visit Visby for 6-8 hours over the day, and then leave again, with new visitors the following day. For a small city – and an economically weak region like Gotland – this poses enormous sustainability challenges: to finish on time and find money not only for the quay but also all other necessary infrastructure (toilets, transport, water, health care etc), to prevent wearing of the natural heritage site of the wall around Visby and other sensitive areas, to prevent overcrowding (“people pollution”), to make enough money the visitors spend stay on Gotland and not end up in the pockets of large and powerful corporations, etcetera. To explore this situation, this paper theoretically deploys notions of overheating, introduced by Thomas Hylland Eriksen (2016); social, financial and ecological clashes of scales. Methodologically, this paper relies on material from an ongoing fieldwork on Gotland, based in the local tourism business, and the organization Gotland Cruise Network, which, as it turns out, is currently at the heart of decision-making and process introduction of both public and private kind. Actors on Gotland are fully aware of the challenges Gotland faces, and strive to find ways for collaboration and cooperation, which is identified as the way forward. The ongoing fieldwork follows these processes and the obstacles encountered.
Railways and Embankments in Colonial Bengal: Where modernist state ideologies failed local livelihoods
Camelia Dewan, University of London
The failure of ‘flood protection’ embankments is at the heart of this paper that provides a historical analysis of why ‘flood-protection’ embankments as ‘climate change adaptation’ are doomed to fail. Hulme (2015) points out that climate change has acquired powerful agency as an explanation of change in the contemporary world, spawning what he terms ‘climate reductionism’. Climate reductionism, he argues, is the increasing trend to ascribe all changes in environment and society to climate change. In this paper I show the ways in which climate reductionism works alongside a long history of development interventions that ignore local context by means of typifications and simplifications (Scott, 1998). Scott (1998) suggests that capitalists and the state collude to use the ideology of science and technology, or ‘high modernist ideology’, to bring these designs into being. The interventions fail, Scott argues, because officials of the modern state are often several steps removed from those whose lives they seek to improve. As a result, they judge society through a series of typifications and simplified approximations of documents and statistics (Scott, 1998). In this paper I show how such simplifications by the colonial state resulted in the replacement of waterways as the main mode of transport with the colonial expansion of land-based infrastructure such as embankments, railways and roads. I argue that such infrastructure was ultimately unsustainable in a local ecological context tied to processes of annual flooding, and the negative repercussions on human-environment interactions are still visible today.
“Destination Dosso”: Infrastructure and economic development in a Nigerien town
Gabriella Körling, Stockholm University
This paper explores the dialectic between infrastructure, economic development and changing meanings of urban life in the town of Dosso in Niger. Following independence Dosso was, for a while, a thriving town. Economic life was fueled by civil servants and factory workers employed in state companies. Starting in the 1980s many of these state companies were closed as a consequence of structural adjustment and liberalization policies, leading to the progressive weakening of the local economy and deceleration of urban growth. Today all that remains of the beginnings of an urban industrial and commercial tissue are empty buildings, aligned alongside one of the main roads. Despite being situated at the junction of two important national highways commercial activities and other forms of investment have never really developed in Dosso. However, recent years have seen a dramatic change as two large scale infrastructure projects (a railway and a dry port) have started to transform the town and triggered expectations about future economic development. In the paper I explore these transformations from a historical and contemporary perspective focusing on the material traces of the future – new hotel and housing developments, warehouses etc. that point to a more prosperous future – and spaces of nostalgia – symbolized by the now derelict and repurposed buildings of state companies that recall a time of state led development and economic prosperity. I use these different generations of infrastructure as an entry point for understanding past and contemporary expectations of urbanization and economic development and as a means for tracing wider local, regional and global connections and historical, political and economic processes that shape urban experiences in secondary cities.
The Embodiment of Embitterment: Tourism Infrastructure and Local Perspectives in Cairns, Australia
Emma Usher, Stockholm University
Cairns is a small, tropical paradise in northern Australia where tourism economy is both a fundamental part of local revenue and a driving force for further economic development of the region. Competition from wider global tourist industry means that Cairns is no longer able to simply rely on the presence of local natural attractions, (Great Barrier Reef), to maintain its monopoly as a world class tourist destination. Local infrastructure has therefore developed swiftly and dramatically to attract and amplify global attention. ‘Tourist developments’ are often lavish, ornate, well-funded projects producing a utopic city for the satisfaction of tourists (touristification). Host-guest relations constructed and transformed by touristification are further expressed in local opinions regarding the urban infrastructure and in the boycotting of use of certain areas in the city. Infrastructures catered more towards supporting activities for the local population are considered as being displaced or receiving ‘secondary treatment’ in development processes. These locally aimed projects often end abruptly, are approached to with “less flair” and are less skilfully developed, according to local perspectives. While the physical space allows room for touristification, the socio-cultural space within the area appears less accommodating and highly strained. Tensions arise and the frustrations of the ‘neglected’ local population places blame on the tourists as “ruining our city”, rather than upon local development officials. Based on interviews, participant observation and cross-referencing of government records, tourist information and historical records, this study examines the negotiation of space, identity and the embodiment of embitterment in infrastructural development in Cairns.
Ritual Infrastructure and the Performance of Syriac Propriety in Södertälje
Jennifer Mack, Uppsala University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Syriac Orthodox Christians now form a dominant pillar in the social life of the Swedish city of Södertälje, where many arrived as immigrants as early as 1967. If welfare-state planners emphasized standardized “classless” spaces in both domestic and public life during the mid-20th century, minimalist Swedish spatial practices for wedding and funeral rituals followed suit. In contemporary Södertälje, in contrast, Syriacs have often valued a maximalist way of life, especially around the celebration and mourning of family members. High volume wailers at funerals and lavish weddings for five to eight hundred guests have required a new “ritual infrastructure” – of spaces, services, and people – that has reshaped the town at large. In other words, temporary spatial practices in Södertälje have produced new urban patterns that, over time and with repetition, have changed expectations for how, when, with whom, and in what clothing Syriac bodies should appear, even as they have also required the construction of new buildings. If Swedish planning outlined explicit rules for spatial decorum and predefined uses for public spaces, it encouraged their social enforcement. Syriac propriety manifests differently as a “culturally intimate” (Herzfeld 1997) revision. Elaborate spatial practices and conspicuous consumption in Swedish spaces are – not paradoxically – paired with expectations of modesty and chastity, together providing evidence of a good daughter, a good Christian, a good widow, or a good family. The new ritual infrastructures thus activate subjectivities of gender, religion, and politics that work in dialogue, mostly tensely, with the vestiges of Swedish welfare-state morality and its standardized built environment.
A mall of one’s own or uniting our lives? Bodies in and out of place
Nika Rasmussen, Uppsala University
Throughout my fieldwork in the neighboring cities La Paz and El Alto, people’s production of the cities as racially and socioculturally different and as materializing different bodies, was apparent. In this paper I analyze how a new infrastructure project, a cable car connecting the cities, generated social tensions and uncovered, reiterated and contested this production. The slogan of the Bolivian state-‐owned cable car company, “Uniting our lives”, is literal in the sense of diminishing the space and travel time otherwise dividing people. However, this fusing caused tensions. On social media, inhabitants of an affluent residential area in La Paz commented on a perceived increase of “disorder” in the(ir) shopping mall. People they deemed belonged to El Alto, based on behavior and physical appearance, were said to increasingly visit the shopping mall. They clearly connected the escalation to the new infrastructure. Geographically separate social worlds and racialized bodies, created historically and constituting the national body, were closing in on each other. These social worlds have never been entirely separate. However, the rising political question of indigeneity, new groups with economic power, and new infrastructure, has intensified social mingling. This time, “wrong” bodies visited the space epitomizing social and cultural differences – the shopping mall. The comments on social media became public news and were criticized at the national level by politicians advocating the plurinational state. By considering the unfolding of events I analyze how bodies and places were constructed, rejected and appropriated. I draw on material gathered during twelve months in 2014-‐2015.
10. Plans, timing and coordination: people and resources navigating in social time
Nathan Light, Uppsala Universitet
Vladislava Vladimirova, Uppsala Universitet
Navigation in social environments requires coordinating people, resources, and activities. People choose routes and plan movements and activities according to socio-natural events, such as annual cycles of ritual events, the growing season, or schedules of work, holiday and schooling. Other timescales can include the life cycle or daily patterns that provide waymarks people take into account when navigating and coordinating social connections. But many less regular emergences and conditions also shape how and when people come together to plan joint activities, coordinate, allocate responsibilities and calibrate timing. Collective activities, whether ritual, economic, or political, require careful positioning and combination of resources, performances, and participants. This panel invites papers that consider the processes of shared decision making, planning, movement and combination of elements to make up events, meetings, rituals, or other joint activities. How are people recruited, plans and timing established, resource contributions negotiated, and the social relations among participants managed? How are decisions made, communicated, and carried out? What information and resources are needed, and how are they acquired and distributed? How are time, place and social position navigated and managed in order to carry out events, and how are effective or poor coordination judged and what are their social consequences? What models and theoretical tools can help analyze processes of navigation, timing and coordination in social environments? What insights emerge from such approaches to social activity?
Coordination and interaction in organizing a Kyrgyz ritual: the crooked timber of social life
Nathan Light, Uppsala University
This paper briefly considers how a coordination model of social activity contrast with a rational choice framework by avoiding maximizing explanations of behavior. Coordination approaches to social life emphasize the role of communication, connection and cooperation, not as the optimal means to some payoff, but because conventions and shared knowledge ease the accomplishment of social life. Conventions facilitate negotiating cooperation and lead to effective social events: the result is more the sense of shared satisfaction than a profitable return of material benefits. People invest heavily in events, and commit to many inefficient practices to coordinate events around recognized and respected practices. Expenses and time invested are not simply signals of commitment or displays of conspicuous consumption: social pleasure and aesthetic value result from well-coordinated events. In this description of preparing and organizing a Kyrgyz ritual I show how coordination and communication lead to commitment and cooperation in accomplishing an event. People negotiate a balance between effectiveness and social practices that include people as the crooked timber that they and their situated histories are. In this case a major death commemoration is being organized by five brothers. They prepare their homes, agree upon timing, commit to expenses, locate resources, and so on. They meet and talk on the phone, employ people to carry out the remodeling and construction work, collect money and purchase animals in a regional market, find transport for them, and so on. They have a preliminary feast to announce the upcoming commemoration and enlist the participation of local religious specialists and elders. Everyone does their best to cooperate and yet each is treated distinctly according to their individual personality and position. The idiosyncrasies of tools and convention have to be taken into account to get things done.
Reindeer Corralling: The interplay of human-human and human-animal coordination
Vladislava Vladimirova, Uppsala University
Winter corralling has become the main, if not the only, herding activity in a reindeer husbandry cooperative in the Kola Peninsula, a region of the Russian Subarctic. In a small chamber in the corral, situated deep in the tundra wilderness, groups of about 20 reindeer each are driven in and divided according to their future function – for slaughter, for reproduction, for training as sled team animals, or to be castrated. Reindeer are also divided on the basis of ownership into those belonging to different teams’ herds and those assigned to a number of private owners. Finally, ownership marks are cut into the ears of those reindeer that lack earmarks. A small group of herders appointed to work in the corral chamber are delegated the responsibility of taking decisions about these procedures. How do these herders communicate between themselves about these decisions during the strenuous work handling stressed semi-wild reindeer? How do their decisions reflect the will of the other reindeer herders who stand around the chamber or do other work, or the control procedures and rules of the cooperative administration? Finally, what channels of communication do private reindeer owners who are present at the event in the tundra or those further away in the village use to insure the fair earmarking of the offspring from their own reindeer? This presentation will address processes of communication in shared decision making and planning across vast distances of un-populated tundra wilderness. Finally, it will take into consideration how reindeer herd behavior is conceived and managed in herding in order to coordinate human and animal intentions.
Overpaid and underpaid: Competing moralities of money and scientific labor in Scandinavian-Uganda Research Collaborations
Eren Zink, Uppsala University
Just as the purchasing power of money varies from one geographic location to another, so too does its meaning as it shifts from one geographic, social and political context to another. Inside and outside Uganda, the salaries of Ugandan scientists are a contentious issue that provokes outrage and frustration amongst students, the media, foreign partners and Ugandan scientists themselves, albeit for quite different reasons that relate to how the commentators themselves are situated in domestic and/or foreign economic spheres. This paper draws from substantivist traditions in economic anthropology to describe moralities of money and scientific labor in Uganda, in particular as they shape Ugandan scientists perceptions of, and strategies for engaging in international scientific research collaborations with Swedish or Norwegian partners.
11. Comparative Municipal Ethnographies: Citizenship, Democracy and Protest
Sten Hagberg, Uppsala Universitet
This panel will focus on the ethnography of municipalities and local governments with specific attention paid to citizenship, democracy and popular protest as to foster conversations about the conditions and articulations of local politics from different parts of the world. The panel aims to explore the contours of what can be termed “a comparative municipal ethnography”. The idea is to use the municipality/the district/the commune as a meaningful comparative analytical unit across regions, countries and continents, assuming that the qualitative comparison of discourse and practice between municipalities puts the searchlight on the interaction of various actors and institutions, including administrative procedures, traditional authorities and party politics. Papers can focus on political parties, popular movements, policy implementation, collective actions or individual trajectories. Papers may furthermore take up the issue of citizen participation and grassroots democracy, inside as well as outside of formal politics, as to explore how such participation and democratic processes relate to citizens’ perceptions and practices of democracy. The panel welcomes both ethnographic case-studies on specific municipalities, as well as, comparative anthropological approaches. The panel will include a mix of papers on municipal ethnographies in emergent “new and sometimes fragile democracies”, in semi-authoritarian regimes, and in nations with a long tradition of representative democracy.
A Comparative Municipal Ethnography: Political Party Formation, Electoral Campaigning and the Production of Public Action
Sten Hagberg, Uppsala University
This paper outlines the contours of a comparative municipal ethnography by drawing on long-term anthropological field research conducted in municipalities in Burkina Faso and Mali, and on ethnographic analyses of decentralization practices across West Africa more generally. The idea is to reflect upon methodological and conceptual issues with respect to qualitative comparative research on municipal politics and local democracy, and exemplify how this could be practically done in the study of local politics. In the paper, I look at three different dimensions of political practice. The first dimension concerns the actual political party formation in municipalities. Even though parties tend to be founded in the national capital, and sometimes in the regional capital, each political party has to be “brought to” and “introduced” by someone in the municipality. In this vein, political party formation implies that the party co-produces political networks out of the bits and pieces of its local founders’ multiple networks. The second dimension is about electoral campaigning, which is the most visible and spectacular political event of municipal democracy. The electoral campaigning is a logistical and financial challenge for parties and candidates, and fund-raising, money distribution and grassroots mobilization is key. At the same time, candidates and party activists fear the defection of followers, especially with respect to community leaders and local big men. The third dimension concerns public action with particular emphasis on its production in the municipality. Public action is produced within a specific context, either by means of party political recuperation or of more subtle community work and mobilization. Development projects and other external funding are co-producing public actions that political actors seek to use for realizing projects and investments in the municipality. In conclusion, I argue that the analytical strength of a comparative municipal ethnography is that I provides insights into the social fabric of public action, and to comparative anthropological studies more generally. A comparative municipal ethnography simultaneously seeks to identify specific features of a given municipality in relation to similar, but context-specific, ones in other municipalities, and to analyze such features between municipalities in in one country and in several countries, as well.
The Politics of the Gutter: Street traders, Market Vendors and the Making of Tamale, Ghana
Ulrik Jennische, Stockholm University
The first half of 2013 was in Ghana a time of political liminality. The results of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in December 2012 were questioned and taken to court by the losing side. Rumors, questions and opinions were blended and confused with news and reports from the electoral-cum-juridical process. At the same time in Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region, the market traders and street vendors, whose practices can be claimed to produce a marketspace, also experienced a time of ambiguity as their space was increasingly contested. Political ambitions of modernizing and ‘beautifying’ the city, spurred by dramatic fire outbreaks in markets all over the country, came true as decongestion exercises and redevelopment projects; interventions that redefined the possibilities for making money off the streets and markets. Increasingly, urban space; piece of a pavement or a gutter, or the gap in between, became the critical resource for subsisting. And relations to public officers, and other big men, were important ways of securing such a space. Processes of informalization and formalization thus simultaneously counteracted and reinforced each other within the marketspace. Moreover, as Ghana deepens its engagement in the global economy, market liberalizations and an increased access to credits (for some) further renegotiated the terms of trading Based on an anthropological fieldwork in Tamale during the time of transformations, this paper aims at showing how these processes are not only lived experiences, and how they in relation with each create a specific urban space, but how they simultaneously produce particular subjects. Within this space small-scale traders become ‘entrepreneurs’ or ‘informals’. Traders may one day be regarded as illegal and as a problem that needs to be solved, and the other day a potential resource against unemployment that generates economic growth, a valid tax base, and potential voters and campaign workers during election time.
Coffee and the State in Rural Ethiopia
Sarah Howard, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Coffee drinking is fundamental to social life in Ethiopia. Based on fieldwork in eastern Amhara Region between 2011 and 2015, this paper explores its role as a mundane activity in the lives of rural local government workers that is an occasion for building group solidarity as protection against the hardships they face. While Ethiopian society is commonly portrayed as highly authoritarian and hierarchical, this ethnographic account of the social lives of low level officials complicates the picture of a strict divide between state and society, and is a contribution to calls for attention to the ways in which material practices continually constitute the state as a reality.
Politics, decentralization and land speculation in Niamey, Niger
Gabriella Körling, Stockholm University & Hassane Moussa Ibrahima, LASDEL Niger and EHESS Marseille
In Niger zoning operations (lotissement), whereby rural land such as agricultural fields is transformed into land plots for housing, industry, commerce and public utility, have either been carried out by the state or by regional authorities. With decentralization the prerogative to carry out zoning operations was transferred to municipalities at the same time as private zoning operations were made possible. In Niamey, the capital of Niger, the multiplication of actors involved in zoning led to an unprecedented competition over land on the urban fringe, involving a multitude of actors including municipalities, private and public enterprises, private entrepreneurs and individual land speculators, national politicians, customary landowners and other brokers and intermediaries. With the rapid proliferation of public and private zoning operations, zoning and land management quickly became central question in local and municipal politics, engendering conflicts, competition and contestation. In this paper we analyze the economic, political and spatial stakes of land management in the periphery of Niamey. We show that zoning operations are revelatory of the intertwinement of public and private interests in municipal politics. Moreover, land speculation and private zoning are part of a wider struggle for political and economic influence. In many cases the people who carry out zoning operations have managed (or at least tried to) convert the resources gained through zoning into political capital, either in the arena of traditional chieftaincy or in the arena of party politics.
Local Communities in the Face of Disputed Potential Municipality of Marracuene, Mozambique
Fernando Manjate, Uppsala University and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane
This paper forms part of my ongoing PhD thesis, focusing on how people in increasingly complex intercultural contexts interpret, modify and sometimes even manipulate inheritance and succession rules to safeguard individual and collective interests. However, although particularly concerned with how people deal with property and succession rights pertaining to their own life situation, my aim of this paper is to explore the broad complex process of decentralization in Mozambique. Marracuene is located in the eastern part of Maputo province (Capital of Mozambique), at a distance of 30 kilometers north of Maputo city. It is bordered, to the north by Manhiça district, in south by Maputo city, in west by Moamba district and Matola city and, in east borders the Indian Ocean. The district covers an area of 697 Km with a population of 84 975 inhabitants (MAE 2005, INE 2009). Currently, the district is undergoing an increasing urbanization characterized by a recent boom of private and public infrastructures as well as public services. Apart from being disputed by the neighboring municipalities of Maputo and Matola, the issue of municipalization of the district of Marracuene has been a daily talking among the district residents who wonder why the district has still not been transformed into municipality. In this paper, my aim is to explore and analyze the community participation in issues regarding the future of their district, especially concerning municipalization and decision making at local level. Apart from the field visits between October 2016 and January 2017, data were collected during fieldwork in two different periods, between the end of October 2014 and the beginning of February 2015, and between August and September 2015. The fieldwork consisted in participant observation, collection of life stories and semi-structured and unstructured interviews, as well as through attending communal court and other events (such as the annual public ceremony Guaza Muthini in 2015 and in 2016) in Marracuene. At the outset, in Mozambique decentralization is a gradual process conceived to promote citizen participation in State administration and local development through delivering great local autonomy and community involvement in local affairs. However, my research reveals that due the existing municipalities’ interest in maintaining or expanding power and influence, such intents has been delayed in Marracuene. Thus, although there is community interest in district affairs, this phenomenon not only delays the local development but also constitutes an obstacle to local democracy.