2 Temporalities of austerity ‘You have to keep moving in spite of everything’1 It was an early morning in October 2011, and I was walking through the Central Market to Riga’s unemployment office. The market was bustling as always, despite the fact that Latvians were still coping with the aftermath of the economic crisis. The effects of the crisis were visible in the public space: there were fewer people and cars on the streets and more closed-down shops and restaurants. Instead, little cafes were popping up one after another in the centre of the city where
of controlling construction projects, shifting the blame back to their political rivals. I met Viktorija at a state-funded rehabilitation centre in the resort town of Jūrmala, half an hour away by train from Riga. A professional psychologist, she was part of the team mobilised to treat the survivors of the collapse. It was over a year after we had last met and since I had participated in her seminars at the unemployment office. I had arranged an interview with her on this follow-up fieldwork trip to talk more about the way she saw her role as a trainer. As I had
-producing small business and I like the feeling of control over my time.” As mentioned earlier, due to the visitors from Greece, Gevgelija has become one of the most prosperous towns in RN Macedonia, with the lowest unemployment rate. The financial prosperity brought by the casinos in this town appeared to be tempered by a compromise with the Greek visitors regarding the name Macedonia: nowhere in the restaurant or café menus would you find the traditional Macedonian salad or any Macedonian specialties. These are named as local specialties, but without
This book is an ethnography of politics of waiting in the contemporary austerity state. While the global political economy is usually imagined through metaphors of acceleration and speed, this book reveals waiting as the shadow temporality of the contemporary logics of governance. The ethnographic site for this analysis is a state-run unemployment office in Latvia. This site not only grants the author unique access to observing everyday implementation of social assistance programmes that use acceleration and waiting as forms of control but also serves as a vantage point from which to compare Western and post-Soviet workfare policy designs. The book thus contributes to current debates across sociology and anthropology on the increasingly coercive forms of social control by examining ethnographically forms of statecraft that have emerged in the aftermath of several decades of neoliberalism. The ethnographic perspective reveals how time shapes a nation’s identity as well as one’s sense of self and ordinary ethics in culturally specific ways. The book traces how both the Soviet past, with its narratives of building communism at an accelerated speed while waiting patiently for a better future, as well as the post-Soviet nationalist narratives of waiting as a sacrifice for freedom come to play a role in this particular case of the politics of waiting.
The looking machine calls for the redemption of documentary cinema, exploring the potential and promise of the genre at a time when it appears under increasing threat from reality television, historical re-enactments, designer packaging and corporate authorship. The book consists of a set of essays, each focused on a particular theme derived from the author’s own experience as a filmmaker. It provides a practice-based, critical perspective on the history of documentary, how films evoke space, time and physical sensations, questions of aesthetics, and the intellectual and emotional relationships between filmmakers and their subjects. It is especially concerned with the potential of film to broaden the base of human knowledge, distinct from its expression in written texts. Among its underlying concerns are the political and ethical implications of how films are actually made, and the constraints that may prevent filmmakers from honestly showing what they have seen. While defending the importance of the documentary idea, MacDougall urges us to consider how the form can become a ‘cinema of consciousness’ that more accurately represents the sensory and everyday aspects of human life. Building on his experience bridging anthropology and cinema, he argues that this means resisting the inherent ethnocentrism of both our own society and the societies we film.
, education and healthcare; cutting public sector wages; and raising taxes to balance the national budget and regain the competitiveness of the economy.1 As a result of the crisis and the austerity regime, the national economy shrunk by 25% between 2008 and 2010. Unemployment had gone up to 21% at the worst point, and unemployment benefits were being cut as part of the austerity measures. Queues for registering for and receiving welfare assistance were getting longer. Yet, I recall noticing the absence of any echoes of Occupy in Riga. The contrast between Greece and Latvia
1990s when harsh neoliberal restructuring had plunged large parts of the population into poverty. A few years before the crash, people’s patience seemed to be finally bearing fruit. There was a construction boom and a crediting boom, as families bought homes and consumer goods – cars, washing machines, wide-screen TVs – or treated their apartments to eiroremonts (‘euro-renovation’). In 2000–2007, the Latvian economy grew on average by 8.8%, and the unemployment rate dropped from 14% to 6% in the same period (Blanchard, Griffiths and Gruss 2013: 330). Kalvītis was
3 The anxious subject Time and selfhood ‘The state simply is not thinking!’, Silva, a 40-year-old unemployed accountant, kept repeating over her second cup of black coffee. I had met Silva in one of the seminars, and we had since been chatting regularly about her experiences at the unemployment office, her attempts to find a job and her life in general. What did Silva mean when she said that the state was not thinking? Her claim came amidst a fast, meandering narrative recounting her personal hardships along with a broader critique of the state of affairs in
. After seeing her at a few of the seminars, I approached her and explained my research. We started meeting regularly over the course of my fieldwork in one or another little café in the centre of Riga to chat about her experiences at the unemployment office and her attempts to look for a new job. Over a number of conversations, Īrisa also told me more about her life. She had once worked on Soviet trading ships as a crew member and had seen foreign lands and eaten foreign delicacies that most other Soviet citizens could only dream of. After getting married and having
location between 2015 and 2019. Introduction to the Hustadt community Bochum, which is located in North Rhine Westphalia in Germany, is affected by a restructuring process that followed the collapse of the mining industry in the 1970s. In the early twenty-first century, major industrial enterprises were closed down, such as Opel in 2008 and Nokia in 2014. It is a city with a 9% unemployment rate (Stadt Bochum 2018b ) and was ranked 27th out of 30 German cities in terms of level of unemployment (Nitt-Drießelmann, Wedemeier, and