"They stole our future". Understanding and experiencing existential immobility in Belgrade, Serbia
(University of Pittsburgh)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the 'existential immobility' experienced by Serbian migrant women who feel stuck, unable to achieve a desired future "stolen" from them by Serbia's perpetual transition. I argue that a focus on 'stuckness' uncovers the values people hold dear when imagining their life trajectory.
Paper long abstract:
Premised on eight months of field-research in Germany and Belgrade, this paper focuses on the 'existential immobility' reported by Serbian migrant women. I follow the life-history narrative of one research interlocutor currently residing in Belgrade, who is in the process of migrating to Germany. The narrative exposes the structural climate of feeling stuck as this relates to the woman's projections against the horizon of the promised democratic and prosperous future for Serbia that has been effectively "stolen" from its citizens by the perpetual transition that the country has been undergoing. My analysis emphasises three elements: (1) enforced presentism; (2) divergences between imagined and felt futurity; and (3) inability to meet expectations of a worthy path in life within an imagined time-frame for progression and fulfilment. I will thus show that for the woman in question, the possibility of migration emerges as an aspired to solution to feelings of stuckness and immobility. Migration is imagined as an exciting motion out and away from enclosure and lack of potential. I argue that researching staying put and 'stuckness' offers much insight into the values people hold dear when imagining their life trajectory at large. My presentation focuses on the temporal dimensions of stuckness as a heuristic device for the production of meaningful anthropological knowledge.
Being stuck. Stillness in times of mobility