Accepted Paper:

Now and then: expressing social time in the refugee camp  


Svetlana Cirkovic (Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts)

Paper short abstract:

I will focus here on the discourse of a Kosovo refugee, paying special attention to the autobiographical data which mingles in the conversation on traditional culture and trying to analyze temporal binary oppositions, temporal adverbials and markers, in order to illustrate the participant’s specific way of expressing social time.

Paper long abstract:

After the political events in Serbia in 1999, many Serbs from Kosovo were displaced and found themselves in refugee camps in Serbia proper. In this paper I will present the data obtained during the interviews with a participant from Kosovo, recorded in a Belgrade refugee camp in the spring of 2003. During our conversation I insisted on topics related to traditional spiritual culture, but interpolation of the participant's own autobiography into the formal discourse is evident.

The material I will analyze here contains two different types of autobiographical data. On the one hand, within the discourse on traditional culture, autobiographical data blend with the description of certain ritual rituals and, on the other, autobiographical fragments also occur in digressions on the participant's present life in the refugee camp, as opposed to her former, pre-refugee life.

I will focus here on some examples which illustrate a specific way of expressing time and try to analyze them using linguistic anthropology methods. Namely, I will explore binary oppositions such as now/then and the usage of temporal adverbials today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, also paying special attention to the temporal markers used by the participant as boundaries for past, present and future (e.g. one day before the war, one day before the bombing and so on).

At the end, I will stress that social time is a very important time dimension in the participant's discourse, in which people's behaviour is guided by rules and norms for relations with other people.

Panel W024
Mutuality and memory: encounters in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cities