Publications 2020

Thelen, Tatjana, and Coe, Cati. 养老带来政治归属:时间维度、表征形式以及相互性.

In Journal of Qinghai Nationalities University, Social Sciences, 46, no.4 (2020): 9-21.

Chinese translation of “Political belonging through elder care: Temporalities, representations and mutuality”. Translated by Wu Xiu-jie.

Tatjana Thelen
Cati Coe

Rasell, Jennifer. Care of the State. Relationships, Kinship and the State in Children’s Homes in Late Socialist Hungary.

Cham: Springer International Publishing. Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan.

Care of the State demonstrates the usefulness of care as an analytical concept to open innovative perspectives on mutual cooptation and constructions of state, families, and individuals. It blends archival, oral history, interview and ethnographic data to study the changing relationships and kinship ties of children who lived in state residential care in socialist Hungary. Jennifer Rasell shows that norms and processes in the Hungarian welfare system placed symbolic weight on nuclear families whilst restricting and devaluing other possible ties for children in care, in particular to siblings, friends, welfare workers and wider communities.

Jennifer Rasell

Thiemann, André. The Red Gold of Serbia. A Historical Ethnography of Serbian Raspberry Production for the Global Market.

= Vienna Working Papers in Ethnography no. 10.

This paper presents the first historical ethnography of raspberry production in Serbia, using an example of two typical actors in a field of entanglement between local production and kinship, global markets and politics of science. Introducing a small-farming household and a manager-agronomist, it disentangles how raspberries became a major export commodity – the red gold of Serbia. This economic success is traced to configurations of the socialist Yugoslav development project since the mid-1970s, when the agricultural cooperative Arilje in southwestern Serbia assembled a complex production, processing, transport and commerce network at the intersection of state-financed science and technology and small-scale farming. During early post-socialism, this cooperative innovation became radically dispersed and production skyrocketed. However, this competitive fragmentation unravelled the collaboration between agroscientists and farmers and aggravated the problems these actors face today, including labour shortages and price fluctuations because of a diminishing ‘quality’ of ‘their’ product.

André Thiemann

Persch, Marlene, and Strauss, Lukas Milo, eds. Willkommenskultur und Stacheldraht.

The anthology Willkommenskultur und Stacheldraht (Welcoming Culture and Barbwire) presents experiences and interpretations of people who have found themselves in the middle of the so-called “refugee crisis”. The contributions are dedicated to the facets and contradictions of private and professional everyday life in a “crisis” that are often ignored in the political exploitation of events. 

Click here to download the PDF for free or send an e-mail to to receive a printed copy!

Marlene Persch
Lukas Milo Strauss

Moradi, Ahmad. The Basij of Neighbourhood: Techniques of Government and Local Sociality.

In: Urban Neighbourhood Formations: Boundaries, Narrations and Intimacies, edited by Hilal Alkan and Nazan Maksudyan, 237–256. London: Routledge.

Based on six months of ethnographic fieldwork in an Iranian seaside town, Bandar Abbas in 2015–2016, this chapter examines forms of sociality and conflicting moral orders that the Basij interventions produce in a poor neighbourhood. Since the 1979 Revolution, almost all rural and urban neighbourhoods in Iran have hosted paramilitary bases of the Basij. These pro-regime Basij bases serve as cultural and political institutions, as well as spaces designed to regulate and police the moral orders within a neighbourhood. Developed over four decades, the Basij has combined hard security (community policing) with soft security (faith-based youth programmes and revolutionary training). To provide a situated understanding of the Basij security practices, I ask: How do the Basijis struggle to tackle crimes rife in their poor neighbourhood through the provision of faith-based youth programmes and revolutionary course training? How are the interdependent neighbourly relations affected by the security practices of the Basij and how do these relations regularly oscillate between intimacy and antagonism? In an attempt to address these questions, I develop two interrelated arguments: First, I argue that governing a neighbourhood is closely linked to local sociality. Second, I show that security always entails some degree of intimacy and the constant breach of those intimate bonds.

Ahmad Moradi

Ellmer, Anna. Caring for Equality? Administering Ambivalence in Kindergarten.

In: Sociologus 70 (1): 39–55.

In recent years, kindergartens in Austria have increasingly become the target of an ambivalent politics of belonging and difference. Looking at institutional childcare practices as processes of doing and undoing differences, this article explores how kindergarten staff translate societal missions of promoting both ‘integration’ and ‘diversity’ into practice by reflecting particularly on the role of bureaucratic practices within this dynamic. Ethnographic studies on the organisational dimensions of institutional childcare have mostly focused on their normalising effects. Based on ethnographic material from two Viennese kindergartens, I show that universalist claims to childcare as a vehicle for belonging are important. Yet, care and administration in kindergarten hardly proceed in clear-cut ways. Pedagogical/bureaucratic practices unfold at the nexus of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’, as well as ‘private’ and ‘public’ spheres, mediated by an ambivalent normative universe and within limited institutional resources. Using a case of staff negotiating kinship practices in one family, the article traces their interplay and shows how bureaucratic practices become entangled with gendered constructions of cultural difference.

Anna Ellmer

Vetters, Larissa: Prozesse des State Building in Bosnien-Herzegowina.

Combining theoretical debates in sociocultural anthropology and public administration scholarship, this study advances a novel heuristic framework for understanding state-building processes in fragmented, post-conflict societies and proposes a new, ethnographically informed methodology.
Focusing on interactions between citizens, civil servants and members of international organisations in the city of Mostar, the study reveals how notions of community, the articulation of interests, as well as ideas and practices of statehood emerge, which neither correspond to consociational democratic statehood, as envisioned by the international community, nor to ideas of exclusive ethno-national communities, as propagated by political leaders.
Using this ethnography, the author argues for abandoning the state-building paradigm of academic description or policy prescription and identifies new avenues for a reflexive, transdisciplinary approach to studying public administration in contemporary glocal contexts.

Larissa Vetters

Rajković, Ivan. Introduction: Against the Green Screen. | Rivers to the People: Ecopopulist Universality in the Balkan Mountains.

In: Rajković, Ivan (ed.). 2020. “Green Capitalism and Its Others.” Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights, March 24.

Read all essays online: Green Capitalism and Its Others.

Whither the Earth? From the Amazon fires to the Arctic melt, School Strikes for Climate and an American Anthropological Association meeting focused on the topic, the year 2019 marked an unprecedented momentum in discussions of our planetary futures. In many parts of the globe, climate change denial is giving way to a growing consensus about the proportions of the danger, and the capital seems to have followed suit. But what are the implications of this epic shift? As the urgency of anthropogenic climate change unfolds in front of us, this collection takes a moment to reflect on the political, socioeconomic, and ethical work done in its name. By attending to the “grey” residues behind the “green” screens—lives and processes hidden behind the authoritative figures of planetary crisis—it chronicles the transforming forms of dispossession and othering, submission, lie, and waste done in the name of greening capital. In many ways, green capitalism is repeating the spoils of its older brothers—colonialism, carbon democracy, development—inducing what some call “climate apartheid.” But the division is not so neat, for, along with the risks, the situation also presents an array of gains, differentially distributed across the vectors of nation and race, class, gender, and age. The same sense of opportunity echoes in the ongoing social movements—civic and insurgent, indigenous and generational, left and right—who, while trying to seize the green from the state–capital embrace, end up discovering new forms of authority, community, and knowledge-making in the process. This collection thus calls for understanding the climate change as a revolution of not only geological (Anthropocene) and world history (Capitalocene) frames, but of the ways the political horizon shifts for all engaged. Whither the Earthlings?

Ivan Rajković

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