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Author:Lucia Najslova (CERGE-EI Charles University)
Paper short abstract:
What does it mean to be far-off? This paper, informed by knowledge produced in and on places conventionally considered as distant or liminal, discusses the complexities of knowing when and how one is outside of the map. The ethnography comes from a space considered "very European".
Paper long abstract:
How can one be at the very center and still not get their point across? Perhaps the growing literature on sea infrastructures and the specific positionality of islands can tell us. This paper reads ethnography from a seemingly central place through observations that were made in and about places conventionally considered as far-off (e.g. Mediterranean islands). This literature, often informed by notions of exceptionality and liminality has a lot to say on lives of those, who seem to be located in the "center". It might be in the nature of centers to produce peripheries (and vice versa). Czech Republic is a very central European state - both in terms of narratives about geography and political journey. While it is sometimes considered peripheral ("eastern", "catching up"), its policy on migration fits the EU mainstream. In fact, it has surpassed "the West". Number of asylums awarded is glaringly low and discourses on why this is a "good thing" inform dominant policy framework. How then to think about people challenging the dominant policy and narratives? It has been a standard practice in humanities and social sciences to use concepts that emerged in the (power) center to make sense of periphery. What do so-called peripheries tell us about the center? Distance, spatial and temporal, is unlikely to be understood solely by using the metrics such as kilometers and hours. What matters is reachability, connectivity. The paper builds on ethnography of peripherals in the center and asks: what does it mean to be far-off?
Living in the EU's ultra-peripheral regions: singularities and complexities