Accepted Paper:

Eating, milking and clogging things up: on the uses and values of money on the Greek-Albanian border  
Sarah Green (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

Talk of how some people in the Greek-Albanian border area continually 'eat' or 'milk' money, and how this clogs up relations and activities in the region, is the focus of this paper. It argues that such talk has reshaped the differences between people and places that the border marks.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on the way certain kinds of social relations, inequalities and differences are both talked about and generated through discussions of the use and circulation of money during both formal and informal attempts to develop (in the widest sense) the Greek-Albanian border region of Epirus. The most common accounts of peoples' use of funds from a variety of sources for 'development' were cynical: repeatedly, there was talk of how some (usually politically powerful and well placed) people in the border area continually 'eat money' or 'milk money', and that this had the effect preventing the smooth flow of relations and activities in the region, generating an almost visceral sense of slowing things down, or clogging them up. The perspective that this particular form of the circulation money has the effect of blocking rather than allowing a flow of relations, activities and exchange, has been noted for many parts of the world; this paper will focus on the way such talk simultaneously has the effect of reshaping the now post-socialist Greek-Albanian border region: a means of defining the difference in values (both moral and material) that the border marks. The paper argues that the re-opening of the border raised the possibility that there was no significant difference anymore; the talk about the use and abuse of money reintroduced the difference as a meaningful one.

Panel W041
Eastern boundaries, money and gender: exploring shifting locations of identity and difference on the European peripheries