This article opens a conversation between anthropological studies of the Mediterranean and of postsocialism in order to propose the notion of a “scalar gaze” as an analytical approach useful for capturing veering practices in their social complexity. The article argues that favors (veze/štela, lit. relations, connections) in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina were a practice through which people fulfilled the demands of capitalist economy to be active, rather than a pre-capitalist excess that prevented “proper” development of the country into a neoliberal democracy. Zooming in and out and looking sideways between moral reasoning, internationally supervised structural changes of the job markets, and electoral politics, this article explores how the relational labor of favors reproduced moral selves, as well as hierarchy and inequality.
Scalar gaze, moral self, and relational labor of favors in Eastern Europe
Reflections on the Sustainability of the Field
Under what conditions does European anthropology emerge today as an intellectual project? European anthropology takes shape only provisionally, as a fractured, heterogeneous and uneven field, for the duration of time-limited research projects and meetings with Europe-wide participation. In the currently dominant socio-economic conditions of academic life, European anthropology as an intellectual project has little chance to develop, except as an accident. And yet, with more institutional stability for researchers and their conversations, European anthropology could be turned into a more inspiring intellectual endeavour that challenges the classic Anglo-Saxon way of understanding anthropology as a conceptual translation between ‘our’ modern and ‘Other’ worlds; it could also help us to reimagine the world anthropologies framework through the postsocialist and postcolonial lens as something other than a ‘family of nations’.