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Liene Ozoliņa

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

in Politics of waiting
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Workfare, post-Soviet austerity and the ethics of freedom
Author: Liene Ozoliņa

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.

Liene Ozoliņa

yet another economic crisis and precipitating yet another wave of austerity. 26 Politics of waiting The PM’s words, while failing to be prophetic, did reveal something crucial about the post-Soviet state project in Latvia. These words spoke of and were spoken within a particular temporal regime that has characterised it. As I will show in this chapter, waiting has been both a target of the neoliberal socio-economic and political reforms as well as, paradoxically, their pre-condition. The temporal politics I am going to examine here throw a light on the economic

in Politics of waiting
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Liene Ozoliņa

Introduction Riga v. Athens As I arrived in Riga in the autumn of 2011 to start my fieldwork, the Occupy movement was springing up in many cities across the world. Protests against austerity were spreading across Europe. Citizens’ movements were soon to turn into anti-establishment political parties across the Mediterranean. Latvia was one of the countries worst hit by the global financial crisis in the world. By the time of the beginning of my fieldwork, the austerity regime had been in place for two years. It had meant slashing government spending on welfare

in Politics of waiting
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Waiting for freedom
Liene Ozoliņa

Epilogue: Waiting for freedom Where is your responsibility? Drawing on ethnographic analysis, I have sought to make a number of contributions to social theory in this book. First, I have engaged with the recently emerging sociology of waiting and theorised waiting as a form of state control (operating at the meso, or policy, level of society), but also as a form of political subjectivity (at the micro level) and an organising logic legitimating a national austerity regime (at the macro level). Secondly, the analysis that I have laid out contributes to the

in Politics of waiting
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Liene Ozoliņa

merely passing’ under various political regimes. In the previous chapter I interrogated the The anxious subject 61 waiting that was both stigmatised and produced by austerity policies and workfare programmes. In this chapter, I wish to probe further how the post-Soviet politics of waiting and catching up have both shaped one’s sense of self and been enabled by particular forms of subjectivity. As Veena Das asks to this end, ‘What is the work that time does in the creation of the subject?’ (2007: 95). She notes that, for her interlocutors, time appears as having an

in Politics of waiting
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Liene Ozoliņa

4 The will to live Standing in the rubble In November 2013, the roof of the supermarket Maxima collapsed in the Zolitūde suburb of Riga, amidst Soviet-era apartment blocks and post-1991 high-rises. Fifty-four people died under the falling slabs of concrete. Police started an investigation, and a public debate ensued about the widespread use of low-quality building materials to reduce costs, about suspicious links between the construction industry and political parties, as well as about the costs of the post-2008 austerity. The opposition party, which was in

in Politics of waiting
Liene Ozoliņa

5 Spaces of the expelled Value and values ‘Is anything beyond the logic of capital?’, Beverly Skeggs asks in her 2013 British Journal of Sociology Annual Public Lecture (2014). Has the economic value come to dominate all social relations as well as perceptions of self, or is human life always about values, in plural, even at this moment in time when the rule of the capital, enforced and propped up by the austerity state, appears unchecked? This question that Skeggs poses resonates with the inquiry I began in the previous chapter, where Viktorija’s story shows

in Politics of waiting
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Selling the Barefoot College
Stewart Allen

organisation. This is highlighted when he later challenges the validity of formal education and expertise with an account of how Introduction: selling the Barefoot College 3 the College campus was solar electrified by an uneducated Hindu priest. Via a re-definition of what constitutes a professional, Bunker calls attention to his organisation’s affinity to a Gandhian existence of austerity. He then demonstrates how this approach to development plays out in practice through a tangible example of the construction of the College campus buildings. His recounting of the tale

in An ethnography of NGO practice in India
Expertise, flexibility and lifelong learning
Ian Lowrie

functioning totality. For this reason, a truly ‘data-driven’ approach, limiting itself only to the immanent features of the data at hand, was not appropriate. In fact, Yuri dismissed such epistemological austerity as just ‘messing around with the data’, which might produce ‘intellectually interesting … but not so useful’ results. Knowing the goals of the systems that have produced the data at hand, understanding their internal function and identifying appropriate criteria by which to judge success or failure are crucial for ‘choosing an appropriate approach [podxodyashii

in Ethnography for a data-saturated world