Accepted Paper:

Next door neighbour relations - the case of a rural community in Patkovac, Croatia  


Danijela Birt Katić (University of Zadar)

Paper short abstract:

In the Bjelovar region, village (face to face) communities dominate the social landscape. The sharing of work tasks between neighbours, friends and godparents through activities such as the harvesting of maize, has not only an economic, but also a social dimension.

Paper long abstract:

In the Bjelovar region, village (face to face) communities, dominate the social landscape. People are well informed about the lives of others, especially when important life-cycle rituals such as weddings, pregnancies, births and divorces take place. During these events villagers get a chance to talk about topics which are not otherwise talked about openly. People meet each other on a daily basis - for example, dropping in to see a neighbour is for most people a normal everyday event which provides the opportunity to learn about and communicate significant daily life events, through just chatting and drinking coffee together or through helping with a particular task or problem. The sharing of work tasks between neighbours, friends and godparents, such as harvesting wine and maize, has not only an economic but also social dimension. In my presentation I will give examples of different forms of mutual help, and address questions such as: what encourages these relations, what kind of values are played out through such relations, what practices are favoured and deemed socially acceptable. Emphasis will be given to relations between next door neighbours which have a special significance and underwent particular changes as a result of the changing economic situation. Villagers mostly chose best friends and next door neighbours as godparents. One may therefore ask: is asking someone to be a godparent a deliberate strategy to make them into a relative? The paper's findings are based on the narratives of inhabitants.

Panel W106
'Kinning' with the neighbours, ritualizing the kin: ritual bonding and negotiating resources