Accepted Paper:

A sign of the times? Public opinion, protest culture and the endurance of economic and government collapse in Iceland.  

Author:

Timothy Heffernan (University of New South Wales)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers what has remained in the aftermath of the 2008 Icelandic banking collapse and subsequent government collapse. The paper demonstrates how these events are remembered and analyses protest slogans to map the assemblages that have cohered around economic and political instability.

Paper long abstract:

This paper considers what stays and remains in the aftermath of economic and government collapse. Drawing on recent ethnographic research in Reykjavík, Iceland I explore the ways the 2008 Icelandic banking collapse and subsequent government collapse have been understood and remembered by individuals over the last decade. By enquiring into the lived experience of these events, I outline the factors that have come to influence individual Icelander's understanding of their contemporary social world and highlight larger public and social themes that continue to linger and re-emerge today (Boylorn 2012). This includes feelings among the public of an 'impending crisis' on account of perceived government instability and, more recently, concern over the sustainability of the current tourism boom. Turning then to reflect on the proliferation of public protest in Iceland over the last decade, I show how common slogans are persistently used by Icelanders living in the capital to censure the behaviour of the political and decision-making class. In doing so, I map out the assemblages that continue to cohere around the collapse of Iceland's economy and government (Latour 2005) and question why particular types of discourse persist in Icelandic protest culture today.

Panel P114
Permanence: anthropologies of what stays