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Workfare, post-Soviet austerity and the ethics of freedom

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.

Temporality and the crossing of borders in Europe

Migrating borders and moving times explores how crossing borders entails shifting time as well as changing geographical location. Space has long dominated the field of border studies, a prominence which the recent ‘spatial turn’ in social science has reinforced. This book challenges the classic analytical pre-eminence of ‘space’ by focusing on how ‘border time’ is shaped by, shapes and constitutes the borders themselves.

Using original field data from Israel, northern Europe and Europe's south-eastern borders (Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Sarajevo, Lesbos), our contributors explore ‘everyday forms of border temporality’ – the ways in which people through their temporal practices manage, shape, represent and constitute the borders across which they move or at which they are made to halt. In these accounts, which are based on fine-tuned ethnographic research sensitive to historical depth and wider political-economic context and transformation, ‘moving’ is understood not only as mobility but as affect, where borders become not just something to be ‘crossed’ but something that is emotionally experienced and ‘felt’.

genre in Latvia where we can pick up key nodes of the normative discourse. In a famous example of this peculiar home-grown genre, the PM Andris Šķēle said on the eve of 1996 that Latvians had to start brushing their teeth and washing their pants if they wanted to succeed in the new market democracy. His was a blunt way of condemning the post-Soviet subjects’ alleged passiveness and reluctance to take their fate into their own hands. These words about the seven fat years coming were alluding to the recent growth of the economy and people’s wages, following the long

in Politics of waiting
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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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unemployment office, I became even more puzzled. I was expecting the people who had lost their jobs in the aftermath of the crisis to be deeply critical of the ‘lean and mean’ welfare state.3 My plan had been to study how the welfare state had been reconfigured as part of the post-Soviet social and economic transformations, and I started with participant observation of one of the key workfare programmes4 for the unemployed, called ‘Competitiveness-Raising Activities’, which consisted of a range of one- to fourday seminars. I was expecting people to resent the fact that the

in Politics of waiting

the origins of untouchables). I thank Kartikeya Saboo for this tip. See Davies and Mates 2006: 162–5; ‘Body heat: using corpses for greenery may be a step too far’, The Economist, 6 August 2009 (www.economist. com.node/14191268, accessed 21 November 2010). Much of this account of the Czar’s end is taken from Massie (1996) and Radzinsky (1993). How this loss is addressed in the post-Soviet period is not the subject of this chapter, but an important advance is made by Serguei Oushakine (2009). References Bloch, M., 1971, Placing the Dead: Tombs, Ancestral Villages

in Governing the dead
Mass violence, genocide, and the ‘forensic turn’

Human remains and identification presents a pioneering investigation into the practices and methodologies used in the search for and exhumation of dead bodies resulting from mass violence. Previously absent from forensic debate, social scientists and historians here confront historical and contemporary exhumations with the application of social context to create an innovative and interdisciplinary dialogue, enlightening the political, social and legal aspects of mass crime and its aftermaths. Through a ground-breaking selection of international case studies, Human remains and identification argues that the emergence of new technologies to facilitate the identification of dead bodies has led to a “forensic turn”, normalising exhumations as a method of dealing with human remains en masse. However, are these exhumations always made for legitimate reasons? Multidisciplinary in scope, the book will appeal to readers interested in understanding this crucial phase of mass violence’s aftermath, including researchers in history, anthropology, sociology, forensic science, law, politics and modern warfare.

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Waiting for freedom

the post-socialist transformation would bring both national sovereignty (i.e., freedom from economic and political policy dictated by the Soviet Union) and individual freedom. But both of these “freedoms” have turned out to be a part of social and economic regulation’ (2004: 166). As a result, becoming ‘free’ has thus made people less free than ever before or – freedom being hard to quantify – differently unfree. Economic regulation, private property, and the constitution of the person as an individual are inextricably linked in both ideology and practice, which

in Politics of waiting

consider, following on from the pioneering work by Katherine Verdery, the political and religious life of human remains, and to embark upon a true social anthropology of the practices of reburial in post-Soviet spaces.35 What do these bones represent? Yet the return of the dead brings with it a set of radical methodological and epistemological questions for those studying post-Soviet societies. If indeed we wish to pursue an analysis of this ‘dark side of modernity’ (‘ face obscure de la modernité’), to use Jackie Assayag’s expression (2007), how can we ‘come to an

in Human remains and mass violence
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How grave robbers, activists, and foreigners ended official silence about Stalin’s mass graves near Kiev

3 Bykivnia: how grave robbers, activists, and foreigners ended official silence about Stalin’s mass graves near Kiev Karel C. Berkhoff The story of Bykivnia is one of boundless mass murder by Stalin’s People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, or NKVD, against Soviet and Polish citizens, but also the depressing tale of how, for seven post-war decades, Soviet and post-Soviet authorities attempted to relegate the killing site to oblivion, how boys and men mangled and looted the skulls and bones for years, and how even after the official veil of silence and deceit

in Human remains and identification