Accepted paper:

Negotiating Serbia's market transitions: Agricultural land and human security


Andre Thiemann (Riga Stradiņš University)

Paper short abstract:

I focus on the link between land and human security by comparing the biographies of two agricultural households. In their efforts at adapting and challenging the tensions in their multiple networks they produce an unstable equilibrium of human security but forfeit state provided social security.

Paper long abstract:

In this research I address the anthropological discussion of neoliberal transition in postsocialism, a genre that has been dubbed "post-post-transition theories" by Manduhai Buyandelgeriyn (2008). Serbia is an interesting case insofar as it had already featured agricultural markets, decentralization and relative workers democracy in socialist times, so that the application of privatization of agricultural and other industries and marketization (agricultural laissez-faire) in the 2000s should seem suspect cures of the ailment of the "socialist" economy even from a "market-believer's" point of view. Contrary to Buyandelgeriyn's view that anthropological critique of shock therapy and the description of the "multiple paths" of neoliberalism in postsocialism has already "contributed to wider anthropological theory" (2008: 237), I follow Tatjana Thelen's (2011) verdict that our theorizing has reached a "dead-end". As long as we do not stop following implicit neo-institutionalist approaches with their underlying assumptions from the modernization/ traditionalization paradigm (cf. Allcock 2000), we are comparing ideal capitalism with actually existing (post)socialism. I propose we can produce new theory when our critique of neoliberalism (cf. Mirowski & Plehwe 2009) becomes concrete, i.e. extending the perspective of our informants by drawing on critical theory in analysing their situated practices within late capitalism (cf. Burawoy 2009).

panel G32
Legal pluralism and transnational politics of securitization (IUAES Commission on Legal Pluralism)