Accepted Paper:

Forget innocence: anthropology of educated left movements  

Author:

Agnes Gagyi (University of Gothenburg)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyzes the alterglobalist and post-2008 left movement waves in Hungary and Romania, with a focus on how academic-activist interactions, mediated by an unequal relationship to Western European versions of the movement, set the conditions of local activist thought and strategy.

Paper long abstract:

When anthropology takes a supportive stance towards left movements, its analytical power is often overshadowed by an identification with the emic notions of the movement itself. Such a blanket of symbolic coherence can obstruct not only the anthropological understanding of the movement, but also the self-reflection of the anthropological gesture vis-a-vis the movement. In the case of movements with an educated constituency, the interaction between movement ideology and sympathetic academic research can be especially intimate. The last two waves of what was considered a global left movement were of that character: alterglobalization and post-2008 Occupy-type movements were both deeply inspired by academic interpretations of globality, and also contributed to the canonization of left academic trends. In such cases, the responsibility of research towards movements needs to go beyond symbolic identification, and do what anthropology can do: investigate how global structural processes, institutional and intellectual interactions, including that with academic research, relate to the lived experience and efforts of the people within the movement. Such an analysis can throw a light exactly on those points of movement constitution which become hidden by the rules of the symbolic field of emic self-understanding. Relying on those principles, the paper analyzes cases of those two left movement waves in Hungary and Romania, with a focus on how academic-activist interactions, doubly mediated by an unequal relationship to the framing power of Western European versions of the movement, set the conditions of local activist thought and strategy.

Panel P054
Ethnographies of the contemporary left