"Don't think that everything is for certain": encountering post-Yugoslav pasts in a British future
Spela Drnovsek Zorko
(University of Warwick)
Paper short abstract:
Based on research on intergenerational narratives among migrants from former Yugoslavia living in Britain, this paper draws on references to normality voiced by my interlocutors to think about how both possible and desirable futures are imagined in relation to contingent pasts.
Paper long abstract:
What visions of the future arise when familial histories of upheaval are part of the everyday longue durée? How might what is 'normal' relate to what is desirable, let alone what is deemed to be possible? Based on ethnographic research conducted on intergenerational narratives among migrants from former Yugoslavia living in Britain, this paper draws on references to normal lives voiced by my interlocutors in order to think about how both possible and desirable futures are imagined in relation to contingent pasts. Within post-socialist ethnographies, 'normal life' has proven to be an analytically useful category for interrogating people's relationship to what 'was' and what 'ought to be' (Jansen 2015), or for illuminating notions of sociality based around shared historicised understanding of lives as fundamentally contingent (Dzenovska 2014). For my interlocutors, such concerns are joined by the familial story of migration, which represents an additional locus where visions of possible lives need to be unravelled particularly when thinking of the futures of young family members born or raised in Britain. How do particular ways of knowing what is possible become linked to experiences of normality interrupted, and under what conditions is such knowledge deemed transferrable? Do diasporic dispositions learned in Britain come with their own sense of possible futures? And how is the very idea of what is intergenerational partially produced within encounters between the (post-)Yugoslav past and the British present-future?
Im)possible lives: on futures as process