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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Europäische Ethnologie | Termine | Institutskolloquium im Wintersemester 2018/19

Institutskolloquium im Wintersemester 2018/19

Wann 16.10.2018 von 14:00 bis 16:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200) iCal

Desire for the Political: Ethnography and Politics after the Cold War

Dace Dzenovska (University of Oxford)



The post-Cold War landscape of Euro-Atlantic anthropology was characterized by a desire for the political as a rupture that would enable alternatives to neoliberal capitalism and the security state. However, the political was elusive, because prevalent understandings of how power works were insufficient; it was difficult to imagine the future from within the global postsocialist condition; and the contours of the political subject of the times were not clear.

            In this talk, I draw on my work on the liberalization of Latvia’s public institutions and the hearts and minds of Latvia’s residents to analyze the conditions of emergence of the desire for the political. I also analyze the limitations of the desire for the political in the currently shifting (geo)political terrain, variously described as a crisis of liberalism, a crisis of Western liberal democracies, or the demise of the international liberal order. I suggest that the desire for the political was enabled by the assumed stability of Western liberalism, and that the current moment entails a re-politization of what was becoming a post-political terrain. In conclusion, I consider the implications of these shifts for anthropology.



Dace Dzenovska (PhD in social cultural anthropology, UC Berkeley) is Associate Professor of Anthropology of Migration at the University of Oxford. She writes about re-bordering and migration in the context of European Union enlargement, as well as tolerance promotion and the postsocialist democratization agenda in Latvia. Her book School of Europeanness: Tolerance and Other Lessons in Political Liberalism was published with Cornell University Press in 2018. She is currently working on a book manuscript on staying and leaving as tactics of life in Latvia after postsocialism, as well as on a new project on emptiness in the Latvian-Russian borderlands.