(University of Tartu and Tallinn University)
Paper Short Abstract:
I explore links between different kinds of dispossessions in rural Estonia in relation to local environmental changes, contributing into the emergence of classes. This case allows developing the concepts of dispossession as well as linking it to both spatial and gender dimensions of class formation.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will explore the links between class and dispossession on the one hand and local environmental crises or perceptions thereof on the other. Based on research in rural Estonia, I will demonstrate how increase in logging in local forests impacts different groups in the region and reflects as well as contributes into the formation of classes. The social strata that have been in flux since 1990s in this post-transformational ex-Soviet country are still shifting. As new categorisations along the lines of access to economic, symbolic and cultural resources form, those dispossessed of such resources also face further and less discussed losses: social and environmental. The loss of social networks, a process that further bolsters class formation, challenges people's ability to contest adverse changes in the local environment such as logging. Whilst threats of logging or actual destruction of forests are widely lamented, specific local mobilisation for change can be dwarfed by dispossession, in particular social dispossession, and foster further dispossessions.
As such, class formation can be theorised as a phenomenon that is relational both across social groups as well as across categories of dispossession. Since social and environmental dispossession are unfolding in specific settings (villages, forests) reducing - or increasing - connection to this space, the spatial dimension is inevitably important. Further attention is paid to the gender dimension as the way the determination and endurance of the local men and women in overcoming losses, and their contributions to the society, are differently challenged and changed.
The new anthropology of class: relations of place, experience and (dis)possessions