Accepted paper:

"You become kin with these people": state kinning and kinning the state in Serbian elder care programs

Author:

Tatjana Thelen (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

This paper places the boundary work within the evolving relations in two elder care projects in Serbia at the center of the analysis. State actors in these cases surpass expectations of citizens, but kinning allows reproducing dominant images of an absent state as well as a loving family.

Paper long abstract:

Based on fieldwork within the project: 'Local State and Social Security in Rural Hungary, Romania and Serbia', I explore processes of kinning within state initiated programs of elder care in Serbia in order to explore how images of state-as-entity are cast as distinct from the domain of the family. Data from two projects in northern and central Serbia, demonstrate how - contrary to the findings of many anthropological studies of the state - state actors in these cases surpass the expectations of citizens. The second fascinating point is the intimate, affective nature of relations between state-funded caregivers, or state carers, and their elderly clients. This stand in stark contrast to prevailing images of an uncaring Serbian state. Nevertheless within complex processes of kinning between state-paid care workers and their clients, dominant images of an absent state as well as state-kinship boundaries are (re)produced. Placing this boundary work within the evolving relations at the center of the analysis highlights the benefits of rethinking the interconnections between kinship and the state.

panel P054
Kinning the state - state kinning: reconnecting the anthropology of kinship and political anthropology