Ambivalences of Displacement in Eastern Europe

Ambivalences of Displacement in Eastern Europe

Ambivalences of Displacement in Eastern Europe
Eva-Maria Walther (University of Regensburg)

Due to the government’s restrictive asylum policy, Slovakia is among the European countries with the lowest rate of asylum applicants. Those who arrive in Slovakia are provided with basic services by NGOs and volunteers, yet with negligible state assistance. This presentation gives displaced persons space to recount the ambiguity of their encounters with Slovakia’s refugee policy. The improvised character of the asylum system is seen as strain but also allows individual care. This finding disrupts a consensus which sees the “undesirability” of Slovakia as refugee destination as example of its inferiority towards its Western neighbors.

Everyday Life of a “Homo Sacer”
Carna Brkovic (University of Regensburg)

Photographs and drawings following the everyday life of a ‘homo sacer’ illustrate how residents of refugee camps sometimes negotiate their political subjectivity. This particular ‘homo sacer’ is a young Roma woman who lived her whole life in a refugee camp in Podgorica, Montenegro. The visuals demonstrate that the camp residents were political beings who yearned for a particular image of home – visualized by them as a house with nice furniture, flowers, and enough room to accommodate several generations of the same family. By articulating specific meanings of home, domesticity, and family intimacy, the displaced asserted their political disposition.

“Thank you but”: Mercy and Disgrace of Second-Hand Trams in Peripheral EuropeDuring two last decades second-hand vehicles flow en mass from Western to Eastern Europe. On the basis of research in Galați (Romania) and Mariupol (Ukraine), this presentation explores inequalities reproduced by flow of artifacts east- and southwards. Locals express ambiguous opinions about new old trams, manufactured in 1980s, and relocated to their cities in 2010s. Some are thankful adopting European streetcars; others feel disgraced. Many articulate both of these emotions. Represented by a displaced object, Europe as idea about good life becomes both powerful and vulnerable.

Aida’s First Coffee
Ana Croegaert (University of New Orleans) & Aida Sehovic (Bronx Museum)

“Aida’s First Coffee” brings together artist Aida Šehović’s public artwork, ŠTO TE NEMA, and anthropologist Ana Croegaert’s public ethnographic work, Gathering Grounds. Our work centers on the aftermath of the 1990s political violence that displaced millions of people whose homes were in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). We work in the tradition of performance theory, using embodied ethnographic inquiry to work against the “scriptocentrism” of authoritative knowledge and explore the contours of women migrants’ efforts to manage massive and prolonged displacements. We focus on one particular practice, Bosnian coffee, to expand archives of displacements and migrations.