As we approach summer, the situation looks a bit better for most of us, with hope for not only vacation but also an (at least partial) return to in-person teaching, research and scientific exchange.
Despite all odds, the last few months have proved productive for the CaSt team and we are happy to announce a few new publications below. We also wish to congratulate Anna Ellmer and Ahmad Moradi on their new positions in Bern and Berlin.
You will find details below, along with reports and announcements of events which you might find interesting.
Anna Ellmer has started to work at the Department of Health at Bern University for Applied Science in Switzerland. Employed as a post-doc, she is pursuing research on the project "Caring about Diversities", which focusses on everyday practices of elderly care in Swiss nursing homes. Congratulations!
CaSt member Ahmad Moradi has joined Freie Universität Berlin as visiting scholar for 2021-2023. Congratulations!
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.
Contrôler les assistés s’est imposé à partir des années 1990 en France comme un mot d’ordre politique, bureaucratique et moral. Jamais les bénéficiaires d’aides sociales, et parmi eux les plus précaires, n’avaient été aussi rigoureusement surveillés, ni leurs illégalismes ou leurs erreurs si sévèrement sanctionnés. Cette spirale rigoriste à l’égard des assistés a plusieurs facettes : des leaders politiques qui pourfendent la fraude sociale et qui parviennent à stigmatiser leurs contradicteurs comme naïfs ou complices ; des administrations qui surenchérissent dans des technologies de contrôle toujours plus performantes ; une division du travail bureaucratique qui déréalise et déshumanise le traitement des cas ; le fonctionnement interne de commissions où la clémence est toujours plus difficile à défendre que la sévérité ; le point d’honneur professionnel du contrôleur de la caisse locale qui traquer la moindre erreur au nom de l’exactitude des dossiers. Tout comme la dénonciation des « faux chômeurs » sert désormais la critique des « dérives » d’un État-providence qu’il s’agit de réformer en faveur de la « responsabilité individuelle », le contrôle et la lutte contre la fraude sont devenus un mode de gouvernement des pauvres. Ils illustrent un nouveau modèle d’administration des populations par l’État qui allie le « management des risques » au néo-paternalisme.
Marlene Persch and Lukas Milo Strauss (eds.): Willkommenskultur und Stacheldraht. Beobachtungen aus der österreichischen "Flüchtlingskrise" 2015-17.
The anthology Willkommenskultur und Stacheldraht (Welcoming Culture and Barbwire) presents various 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.
The topic of care has inspired a vast and complex body of research covering a wide range of practices. As an open-ended process, it is generally directed at fulfilling recognized needs and involves at least one giving and one receiving side. Although care has mostly positive connotations in everyday usage, giving or receiving it can also be a negative experience or express domination. Care evolves through complex arrangements of different actors, institutions, and technical devices and at the same time transforms them. As human needs are not a given, the process of care involves negotiations about who deserves to receive it and on what grounds, as well as who should provide it. Because care is so deeply implicated in articulating and mediating different moralities, it becomes central to constructions and classifications of difference. In this way, care extends far beyond intimate relations and is engrained in processes that establish belonging as well as various forms of inequality. Researching care in intimate settings as well as in public sectors enables bridging various communities of care and grasping how the distribution of care not only mirrors inequalities but contributes to their (re)production or even intensification.
German review of "Relations. An Anthropological Account" by Marilyn Strathern.
4.-5. June 2021 (University of Vienna)
"What can ethnography really do?" 13th PhD Workshop for ethnographic research
This workshop was organized by two CaSt members, Marlene Persch and Lukas Milo Strauss (as well as Catherine Polichshuk) in a hybrid format. For two days, PhD candidates discussed questions about the limitations and possibilities of ethnography. The workshop started with a panel discussion by Kristine Krause (University of Amsterdam), Isabelle Clair (IRIS, Paris) and Mirco Göpfert (University of Frankfurt a.M.), moderated by Marlene Persch (University of Vienna). The discussion touched various topics – such as the process of knowledge production, methodological and ethical questions during the research process – which were discussed more thoroughly on the following day. Following the ethnodoks* format, working sessions on the second day were developed and conducted by student participants and joined in the morning by the panel guests as well as Tanja Ahlin.
The panel explored how rules and their transgressions shape relations of care. Given the substantial opacity of care as an array of practices, expectations and moral imageries, the attention was drawn to the ways in which relations of care are entangled with forms of violence and acts of transgression.
Aligning with the ongoing discussion on care and the state and departing from the idea of biomedicine as a crucial component to post-pandemic statecraft projects, this workshop wants to explore what contribution medical anthropology can give to our understanding of the relationship between the state and those who contest, comply and respond to its services and discourses. We invite original contributions focusing on research empirical outcomes or exploring theoretical possibilities which revolve around public health measures, policies, discourses and their reception. The workshop is supported by the Medical Anthropology Young Scholars (EASA network) and it is part of MAYS Method Series. Convenors: Dr. Letizia Bonanno (Loughborough University & University of Kent) Dr. Giuseppe Troccoli (University of Southampton)