Daniel Knight, Elizabeth Krause, Susana E. Narotzky, Sofia Kalo, Alyssa Maraj Grahame, Eleanor Marie Finley, Massimo Bressan, and Frances Pine
The panel addresses the theme of the “familiar/strange” from the spatial and temporal perspectives as it emerges in crisisridden Europe. Many people in Europe had incorporated the expectations of economic growth and welfare as the political expression of a postWorld War II expansion of citizenship entitlements superseding violent confrontation between nations and classes. The aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the intensification of structural adjustment policies have resulted in an ambivalent understanding of the present experience. While some perceive it as a breakdown of political, social and economic promises and expectations, stressing the “strangeness” of the new situation, others perceive it as the continuation of past relationships that have never disappeared, stressing their “familiarity.” The latter may refer to the memories of past job loss, national humiliation, repression, corruption, etc. This panel focuses on the temporalities of the crisis. Presenters explore the modes in which the past and the future are interpreted and used in order to make sense of continuity and change, and as discursive weapons by European social actors in the wake of the crisis. Particular practices of resilience or accommodation are often justified in terms of remembrance of “familiar” past events and actions. Conversely, some forms of mobilization and social creativity stress their total rupture with past political practices and present themselves as exclusively oriented toward a future, willfully different. Often we observe this happening simultaneously. How can we understand these tensions? What structural and lived incoherencies are they pointing at? This panel also seeks to address ethnographic encounters as they select to stress one or the other of these realities. It poses reflexivity at the center of the understanding of crisis in Europe. Why do we choose to focus on the “familiar” or the “strange” aspects of people’s practices and discourses? Why do our informants and collaborators choose to underscore breakdown or continuity? Is it a matter of methodological choice on our part or of ideological positioning on theirs? Or is it, rather, the inescapable presence of historical facts? As we penetrate the spaces of crisis through the concrete ethnographic experience we are driven to embrace the logics and reasons of the people we share our lives with, for the time being. How do we need to negotiate them as we pause to analyze and explain?