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 book addresses late-Soviet and post-Soviet art in Armenia in the context of turbulent social, political and cultural transformations in the late 1980s, throughout the 1990s and in early 2000s through the aesthetic figure of the ‘painterly real’ and its conceptual transformations. It explores the emergence of ‘contemporary art’ in Armenia from within and in opposition to the practices, aesthetics and institutions of Socialist Realism and National Modernism. The book presents the argument that avant-garde art best captures the historical and social contradictions of the period of the so-called ‘transition,’ especially if one considers ‘transition’ from the perspective of the former Soviet republics that have been consistently marginalized in Russian- and East European-dominated post-Socialist studies. Throughout the two decades that encompass the chronological scope of this work, contemporary art has encapsulated the difficult dilemmas of autonomy and social participation, innovation and tradition, progressive political ethos and national identification, the problematic of communication with the world outside of Armenia’s borders, dreams of subjective freedom and the imperative to find an identity in the new circumstances after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This historical study outlines the politics (liberal democracy), aesthetics (autonomous art secured by the gesture of the individual artist), and ethics (ideals of absolute freedom and radical individualism) of contemporary art in Armenia. Through the historical investigation, a theory of post-Soviet art historiography is developed, one that is based on a dialectic of rupture and continuity in relation to the Soviet past. As the first English-language study on contemporary art in Armenia, the book is of prime interest for artists, scholars, curators and critics interested in post-Soviet art and culture and in global art historiography.
Eurasian security governance has received increasing attention since 1989. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the institution that best served the security interests of the West in its competition with the Soviet Union, is now relatively ill-equipped resolve the threats emanating from Eurasia to the Atlantic system of security governance. This book investigates the important role played by identity politics in the shaping of the Eurasian security environment. It investigates both the state in post-Soviet Eurasia as the primary site of institutionalisation and the state's concerted international action in the sphere of security. This investigation requires a major caveat: state-centric approaches to security impose analytical costs by obscuring substate and transnational actors and processes. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon marked the maturation of what had been described as the 'new terrorism'. Jervis has argued that the western system of security governance produced a security community that was contingent upon five necessary and sufficient conditions. The United States has made an effort to integrate China, Russia into the Atlantic security system via the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The Black Sea Economic Cooperation has become engaged in disseminating security concerns in fields such as environment, energy and economy. If the end of the Cold War left America triumphant, Russia's new geopolitical hand seemed a terrible demotion. Successfully rebalancing the West and building a collaborative system with Russia, China, Europe and America probably requires more wisdom and skill from the world's leaders.
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
institutional vacuum in the post-Soviet geopolitical space has both contributed
to such problems and impeded their successful resolution. The post-Soviet
states have been forced to rebuild themselves by establishing basic institutions of governance and administration. At the same time the massive legitimacy problems they face call for nation building, along either inclusive/
civic or exclusive/ethnic lines. Moreover, the post-Soviet transition is further
complicated by its taking place in the context of globalisation and as such is
marked by heightened economic
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
The conceptual horizons of the avant-garde in Armenia
Between the ideal and a hard
Between the ideal and a hard place: the
conceptual horizons of the avant-garde
Art as the avant-garde of the contemporary
This chapter interrogates the historical relationship between ‘contemporary
art’ and the ‘avant-garde’ from the perspective of late Soviet and post-Soviet
cultural discourses. Further, the chapter defines one of the key conceptual figures of the book, the concept of the ideal in a historical materialist
understanding. From a historical materialist perspective, concepts do not
precede or even
(the judiciary, the media, political opposition, the international community, global communications, big business) which may
work against such a process. There are key events too, most notably the
parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 2007 and 2008
respectively, which will open up political debate and promote political
intrigue, even if in a limited or controlled fashion.
This opening chapter places developments in contemporary Russia
within the empirical and analytical contexts of the post-Soviet period.
There is an apparent duality about both of
New Sincerity and the performance of post-Soviet national
Burden of proof
New Sincerity and the performance of
post-Soviet national identities
Questions about the nature of trust, sincerity, and belief in contemporary
Russian culture run throughout the country’s twenty-first-century documentary theatre repertoire. In their varied interpretations of the form,
Russia’s documentary theatre artists create performances that speak directly
to the country’s cultural tensions between history, memory, and national
identity. Each of the plays discussed in this book explores the contours
of how Russia’s conflicted relationship