Among young unemployed or underemployed men in the port city of Batumi, the regional center of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara in Georgia, the Black Sea is a social and imaginary horizon that signifies both geographical mobility and confinement. Since Georgia gained independence, Batumi went from being a Soviet borderland to being an opening to the West. However, due to visa regulations, “the West”—and the opportunities associated with it—has long been limited to the other Black Sea countries of Turkey and Ukraine. Following the August 2008 war, Russia, although being a much more desirable destination, became out of reach for the majority of these men. Through the notions of social and geographical horizons, this article argues that the young men, despite their sense of confinement, manage to forge alternative connections to Russia via Internet sites, where the online dating of Russian women was used as a means to gain access to Russia via marriage.
Hope, confinement, and virtuality among youth on the Georgian Black Sea coast
Martin Demant Frederiksen
Marginality, disengagement, and the doing of nothing
Martin Demant Frederiksen
Studies of marginality have examined how individuals or groups are distanced from a hoped-for life as a result of structural, economic, or political circumstances, and how this may result in unwanted experiences of boredom. This article critically reexamines this perspective by juxtaposing it with an empirical description of a group of young Georgian nihilists who live in a sphere of disengaged repetition where turning the future into something that “doesn’t matter anyway” becomes a way of handling boredom in the present in an inactive manner. I use this to examine the temporal aspects at stake among marginal groups who deliberately disengage. In the article, I deploy the term “joyful pessimism” as an analytical device to capture an alternative configuration of marginality and boredom.
On Recurrence and Open-Endedness in Life and Analysis
Anne Line Dalsgaard and Martin Demant Frederiksen
Based on long-term fieldwork in Northeast Brazil and the Republic of Georgia, this article explores how open-endedness can be incorporated into ethnographic analysis and writing, not as the empirical object, but as a basic condition for knowledge production. In the empirical contexts that we describe, daily life is marked by poor prospects and the absence of possibility, especially for young people. Rather than letting this guide our analyses, this article argues for the necessity of paying attention to the openness and potential of experienced moments of change. We propose that even relapses into former habits and predicaments present the potential for change on a subjective level. In the process of putting informants' stories into words and analysis, we revisit both field and text, constituting a hopeful practice similar to that of our informants.
A Comparative Perspective on Youth in Marginalized Positions
Susanne Højlund, Lotte Meinert, Martin Demant Frederiksen and Anne Line Dalsgaard
The article explores how societal contexts create different possibilities for faring well towards the future for young marginalized people. Based on a comparative project including ethnographies from Brazil, Uganda, Georgia and Denmark the authors discuss well-faring as a time-oriented process based on individual as well as societal conditions. The article argues that in order to understand well-faring it is important to analyse how visions and strategies for the future are shaped in relation to local circumstances. Whether it is possible to envision the future as hopeless or hopeful, as concrete or abstract or as dependent on family or state is a ma er of context. Well-faring is thus neither an individual nor a state project but must be analysed in a double perspective as an interplay between the two.