Publications 2015

Schwell, Alexandra. Negotiating the Imagined Geography of Europeanness in Polish State Bureaucracies.

Anthropological Journal of European Cultures 24 (2): 128-149.

The article focuses on the fluctuating cartography of East and West and the varying degrees of perceptive Europeanness. They influence everyday practices of actors working in Polish state bureaucracies who professionally advance the European integration in a national framework. While an important part of their self-image is the dissociation from cultural ’Eastness’ and the backwardness they ascribe to fellow citizens, they still experience negative stereotyping and mistrust from the part of the EU-15 ’Westerners’. Consequently, East-Central European state officials oscillate on the continuum between cultural »East« and »West« and constantly negotiate distance, relatedness, and thus their own liminal position. By scrutinizing how Polish state officials aim at positioning themselves on the mental map of Europe, this article shows that they attempt to escape the cultural pattern of negative stereotypes and mistrust they experience by using a functionalistic staging of efficiency. This is a rhetorical strategy employed to cope with existing asymmetries.

Alexandra Schwell

Thelen, Tatjana. Care as Social Organisation: Creating, Maintaining and dissolving significant relations.

Anthropological Theory 15 (4): 497-515.

Although increasingly debated in public, scholarly discourses on care remain fragmented. This is not only due to the scientific division of labor, but also to different national research traditions as well as to categories that link predefined relations to specific practices. In this article I set out to establish care practices as vital elements of social organization in order to overcome commonplace dichotomies such as privatepublic, good–bad, modern–traditional, and micro–macro. In order to facilitate making care a central element of anthropological theory, I revisit diverse theoretical frameworks from Marxism and feminism to disability, social security and humanitarianism studies. With the decline of Marxist anthropology, the awareness it once raised regarding ‘public’ aspects of care has virtually vanished. Today practices of care are mostly discussed in kinship debates, with the result that the importance of care for other social relations is underestimated. Finally, I propose a processual conceptualization of care with a focus on practices that can enhance our understanding of the links and overlaps between relationships that are usually analysed within distinct spheres of social life, such as economics and politics.

Tatjana Thelen

Thelen, Tatjana. Care of the Elderly, Migration, Community: Explorations from Rural Romania.

In Anthropological Perspectives on Care: Work, Kinship, and the Life-Course, edited by Erdmute Alber and Heike Drotbohm. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 137-155.

Tatjana Thelen

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