Accepted Paper:

From border fetishism to tactical socialism  


Gabriela Nicolescu (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Based on Abu-Lughod’s (1990) concept of tactical humanism, I launch a critique on classical anthropology of Eastern Europe and promote tactical socialism as a strategy for future research and writing.

Paper long abstract:

Yurchak's affirmation 'Everything was forever until it was no more' as related to socialist USSR it is not ultimately accurate or true. There are still socialist practices and ways of looking at the world lingering in state institutions in many parts of the world, and not least in Eastern Europe - the so called grey zones (Kundsen and Frederiksen, 2015). There is still distribution of technical knowledge from East to West - although, we need to consider whether the term 'grey' applies to it? Instead of looking at socialism's dissolution, I argue that we should look at its persistence, today, in un-expected places, like a square in London for example, or in the migration of Eastern European women in care jobs in Southern Italy. Tactical socialism as a strategy derived from tactical humanism brings out similarities of state distribution and protection of its citizens (with its positive accomplished effects) in all our lives across the world, going beyond the border fetishism. It can be encountered in such nuanced, but at the same time positive projects on socialism's past, like for example Socialism Goes Global (yet to be shaped). I will re-phrase Mudimbe's (1988) affirmation into a question: is it possible to imagine any anthropology without a Western epistemological link? My account on state employed Romanian women, working as carers in Italy, is an example of continuity of autonomy and employment practice, surviving socialism, trans-borderly.

Panel P031
Postsocialism and anthropology: theoretical legacies and European futures