While Western Europe has a long history of facing and studying the issues of immigration, this phenomenon is still recent for the ex-socialist states and has not been studied sufficiently yet. At the same time, the 'closed' nature of the socialist societies and the difficulties of the 'transitional period' of the 1990s predetermine the problems in communication between the migrants and the population majority, the specific features of the forming diasporas and of their probable position in the receiving societies. The study of African migrants in Russia (particularly in Moscow) recently launched by the present authors consists of two interrelated parts: the sociocultural adaptation of migrants from Africa in Russia on the one hand, and the way they are perceived in Russia on the other. One of the key points of the study is the formation or non-formation of diasporas as network communities, as a means of both more successful adaptation and identity support.
African Migrants in the Russian Capital
Dmitri M. Bondarenko, Elena A. Googueva, Sergey N. Serov and Ekaterina V. Shakhbazyan
Polya Ilieva and Thomas M. Wilson
This article examines forms of ideological and political responses to European integration and Europeanisation that are either negative in form and function or that are projected as such for local and national purposes. The concept of 'Euroscepticism' is shown here as a useful linguistic and sociological starting point for examining the transformative power of the EU in the politics of all levels of European societies. The ways in which people express their support, opposition or ennui in regard to the role of 'Europe' in their lives delineates here the instrumentalism in the way they approach advancing European integration. The processes of resisting, negotiating and adapting (and adapting to) European integration are offered here as topics of anthropological significance in their own right. A case study from one former socialist country, Bulgaria, illustrates what may be suggested as a commonplace sentiment throughout the EU - a feeling of marginality due to the disconnection and disaffection that remain at the heart of Euroscepticism in all of its forms. Bulgaria offers a frame through which to reflect on the reformulations in local, regional and national political society as they relate to supranational and transnational forces throughout Europe, and to illustrate how an anthropological attention to the issues of post-socialism in Central and Eastern Europe may bene fit from an examination of the new forces of European integration.
Trust, Trustworthiness and Social Transformation in Slovakia
This article argues that trust cannot be easily isolated as a form of social interaction without the risk of overseeing the nuance between practices and ideas. Using a case study of a rural community in post-socialist Slovakia, the author examines how trust and trustworthiness are built and applied under conditions of profound social transformation. Following mainstream anthropological approaches to post-socialism, he shows that this transformation has deeply affected the patterns of local social interaction. Moreover, following Slovakia's recent EU accession, increased social and work mobility have further complicated the picture. If trust remains a crucial idea underpinning individual social choices, cognitive constructions of trustworthiness tend to diverge from practices. This is due, among other factors, to the difficulty of calibrating spatial and temporal mental models of trustworthiness with trust as social action.
Infrastructure and Ignorance in Peri-urban Ulaanbaatar
Morten Axel Pedersen
In a neglected corner of peri-urban Ulaanbaatar’s sprawling post-socialist slums, the livelihood of dozens of households has over recent years been affected by a large infrastructure project that will never be built. ‘Power Plant #5’ was originally tendered to a Chinese construction firm in 2008 as part of a national strategy to develop Mongolia’s energy production to meet new needs. Taking its departure in the story of a poverty-stricken woman long employed as a caretaker by a mysterious organization allegedly in charge of Power Plant #5, this article explores the peculiar dynamics by which lacking knowledge about this and other infrastructural projects in contemporary Mongolia feeds into dispossessed people’s dreams about and plans for the future. Indeed, it suggests that ignorance itself may be conceived of as an infrastructure in its own right, insofar as it constitutes a ground from which certainty as well as uncertainty emerge.
The renewed relevance of religion in post-Soviet public spheres has been accompanied by conspicuous and controversial conversion processes. This article compares cases of conversion on the Muslim-Christian frontier in Kyrgyzstan and in Georgia. It argues that the notions of boundary and frontier are essential to construct a more dynamic model for understanding 'spiritual' movement in social contexts that are rapidly changing. This approach in turn sheds light on the roles and the nature of social and cultural boundaries in the contemporary world.
The Moral Cartography of Renovation in Late-Socialist Vietnam
Building on fieldwork in Hanoi, this article uses the idea of moral cartography to explore the ethical significance attached to the expertise of mapmakers, geomancers and psychic grave-finders, fields widely esteemed in Vietnam as scientific disciplines with strong moral entailments. Of central concern are the ways such practices reflect the intertwining of the temporal and the geophysical. The material expressions of these engagements include article death goods and the photographs displayed on ancestor altars; also maps as points where histories of nationhood and family interpenetrate in forms both exalting and painful for those involved. In connecting the different markers and chronologies of Vietnam's official and familial time modes with the notion of a moralized marketplace, it is suggested that the ethical concerns of today's market socialism are being negotiated in Hanoi not only in temporal terms, but through evocations of purposefully achieving life in space.
Comment and Reply
Stephan Feuchtwang and Susan Bayly
The Bad, Fear and Blame? Comment on Bayly’s Mapping Time, Living Space Stephan Feuchtwang
Reply Susan Bayly
This essay reviews the revolutionary situations that recently emerged in the post-Soviet world, focusing on the 'Tulip Revolution' in Kyrgyzstan. Observers were quick to explain this revolution in terms of democratic resistance to authoritarianism. This view is particularly problematic given that Kyrgyzstan was among the 'fast reformers' in the region and made its name as an 'island of democracy'. Instead of assuming that problems started when the country digressed from the ideals of liberal democracy, this essay argues that democratic reform and market-led development generated both the space and motivations for revolutionary action. Democratic reforms created the possibility of political dissent, while neo-liberal policies resulted in economic decline and social dislocations in which a temporary coalition between rural poor and dissenting political leaders was born.
Shamanism and Belonging in Ulaanbaatar
This article examines how shamanic practices can, through the generation of a spiritualized narrative past, relocate individual subjectivities in an extensive web of relationships that include and extend beyond living relatives. The analysis describes the transition from collective to individual responsibility and concurrent feelings of dislocation that occurred in Mongolia at the end of the socialist period. Referring to the biography of a young Mongolian woman, the article looks at how the vertical ontologies present in Mongolian shamanic practice have relocated Enkhjargal in extended kinship connections, building cosmologically enmeshed relationships that reach back into the pre-socialist past. In the increasingly fluid and unpredictable urban environment of Ulaanbaatar, it explores a living instance of re-engagement and attendant growth in both obligation and capacity.
On the Phenomenon of Communist Nostalgia in Slovenia and Poland
The article examines the phenomenon of communist/post-socialist nostalgia, with a focus on Slovenia and Poland, through the central issue of identity, memory and the concrete manifestations of nostalgia. The emergence of a somewhat distinct 'Eastern European' identity and the East--West divide in historical and cultural terms is explored through several historical events of the European project between the World Wars. The revival of the communist brands, commercial products, symbols, music and film is the core of the communist 'renaissance', witnessing mainly the need for encountering the past, the selectiveness of memory and the right and emotional need to value one's own personal history and past.