"As long as there is our smoke, it's going to be fine": air pollution, fear and hope in an industrial town in Eastern Serbia
(Utrecht University )
Paper short abstract:
In the paper I explore people’s relationship with air pollution in Bor in Eastern Serbia. In particular, I explore relationships with the toxic, locally called, “the smoke” which occasionally “falls down” as a by-product of the copper smelting factory, almost centrally positioned in the town.
Paper long abstract:
In the paper I explore people's relationship with air pollution in Bor in Eastern Serbia. In particular, I explore relationships with the toxic, locally called, "the smoke" which occasionally "falls down" as a by-product of the copper smelting factory, almost centrally positioned in the town. After prosperous period during socialism and until recently down-at-heel, the Copper Mining and Smelting Complex (still socially owned company) and the town are experiencing their mutual revival due to rise of copper price, stronger state support and the national politics. On the basis of ethnographic research conducted in 2012.and 2013. I analyse contested and ambiguous moralities which emerge in different contexts around pollution which simultaneously signifies a threat and a risk, but also a sign of various "opportunities". I pay attention how "calculation" and notions of risk are related to hopes, aspirations and fear in a particular context of a "social contract" between the city, the company and people. I indicate how "the smoke" is entwined with the notion of modernity, optimism and deferred future. On the example of reconstruction of the old smelting factory as "development as forever" project, I show how air pollution has been co-opted in the local political rhetoric and in the notions of hope among people who face precarious and uncertain future. I wish to explore this within a wider frame of the large-scale processes of global capitalism and to understand this post-Yugoslav context which might "speak" about capitalist forms "as such" and not just about their "Balkan" versions.
Economies of growth or ecologies of survival? Fear and hope in an overheated world