Author:Aet Annist (University of Tartu and Tallinn University)
Paper short abstract:
My presentation will analyse the processes of social and ethnic dispossession in Eastern Europe and the emerging post-socialist transnationalism, and will theorise the implications of these changes for both anthropology of postsocialism as well as for anthropology in general.
Paper long abstract:
Approaching the developments in Eastern Europe from the angle of postsocialism has been particularly valuable to reveal the social effects of the speedy entry into neoliberalism in the area, unprecedented anywhere else in the world due to the "will to improve" (Li 2007) and to "return to the Western World" (Lauristin and Vihalemm 1997). This drive is a sufficient ground to still view this region through the prism of postsocialism which has triggered extremely rapid social restructuring in the region. Further, this condition has also shaped the particular type of transnational and diasporic postsocialism caused by discontent with the discrepancies between the expectations and the experiences of the real neoliberal capitalism. I focus in particular on "social dispossession" (Annist 2015) in postsocialist Estonia which has affected people's ability to informally solve local and communal problems, and on the availability and effects of local and national institutional solutions. I offer ethnographic examples that connect social dispossession in the postsocialist states with ethnic dispossession in diasporic/transnational contexts. Arising from this, I will address the wider issue of pervasiveness of neoliberalism and whether postsocialist neoliberalism deserves to be singled out as spearheading this global process. The analysis on dispossession of the neoliberal subject locally and globally could offer grounds to reconsider and reshape more general anthropological thinking on sociality, following both classical (Strathern 1996) as well as more recent (Viveiros de Castro 2012) debates.
Postsocialism and anthropology: theoretical legacies and European futures