Accepted paper:

Which crisis? Discrepancies on the definition of what is in crisis


Ana Carolina Balthazar (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio))

Paper short abstract:

This paper intends to investigate the contrast between a local understanding of the contemporary crisis and the government’s official initiatives in Margate (UK), what seems to have culminated in the recent election of the United Kingdom Independence Party for 7 out of 8 seats in the local council.

Paper long abstract:

After the increase of international tourism at the second half of last century, Margate's economy (UK), intensely based in the tourism industry, crashed. Recently, in reaction to this situation, a plan was designed by the local government in order to economically and culturally regenerate the town. However, while the government defines Margate's crisis an economical one, something that can be solved with the development of a new tourism industry that will generate jobs, to my informants the risk lies in the ways this new tourism encourages narratives and changes that displace their memories of the town as a working class destination. Nostalgia and nationalism that are often used in the area as a tool for sociality are overshadowed by the government's concern with "interpreting the past in a way that is relevant for today". While governors understand they need to solve an economical problem, my informants protest against the danger of losing the culture that gives meaning to their lives. In relation with such events, the nationalist party UKIP increases support in recent local elections. This paper intends to experiment with conceptual affordances (Holbraad, Pedersen and Castro; 2014) of "crisis" and, further, discuss the level of engagement the researcher should have with the contrasting positions. The political intention here is not to commit to one of the contrasting discourses about what is in crisis but to the political quality that this "conceptual experiment" holds in itself.

panel P36
Engagement and disengagement in crisis: anthropology as a mutualist concern