Special issue :Introduction: Balkan Precariat

This special issue of Contemporary Southeastern Europe highlights recent research in the social anthropology of three former Yugoslav countries, namely Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia. It represents a shift away from previous studies of the former Yugoslav region, which has focused mostly on the dissolution of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia and ensuing wars. This issue points to the necessity of studying the Western Balkans from perspectives beyond the ‘war and nationalism’ paradigm. With its comparative approach, anthropology is probably the best of the social sciences for undertaking such an endeavour. Similarly to how Michael Herzfeld has shown that the geographically marginal position of Greece provided a platform from which to study European anxieties, the Western Balkans, as a European periphery whose ‘otherness’ is affirmed through its non-EU status, can serve as a laboratory for studying the workings of weak states with unregulated markets. Why go all the way to Africa, as the Comaroffs suggest, when the European periphery, exemplified in Bosnia, Macedonia and Serbia, represents a much nearer experimental playground for neoliberal capitalism?

Ivana Bajić-Hajduković

Ivana Bajić-Hajduković

Ivana Bajic-Hajdukovic is an Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University London Program. She has studied social anthropology with regional focus on Southeastern Europe and gained a PhD at Department of Anthropology, University College London. Her current research and teaching focus is food studies. Previous publications covered migration, remittances, material culture and family relationships.

Bracewell, Wendy. 2013. ‘Eating Up Yugoslavia: Cookbooks and Consumption in Socialist Yugoslavia’, In Bren, P., Neuberger, M. (eds). Communism Unwrapped: Cultures of Consumption in Post-1945 Eastern Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Caldwell, Melissa (ed.) 2009. Food and Everyday Life in Post-Socialist World. Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Graeber, David. 2012. Debt: The First 5000 Years. Brooklyn/London: Melville House.
Hyder Patterson, Patrick. 2011. Bought and Sold: Living and Losing the Good Life in Socialist Yugoslavia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Ledeneva, Alena. 1998. Russia’s Economy of Favours: Blat, Networking and Informal Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1. What is the role of social networks in post-socialist Serbia? Compare to other former Yugoslav countries.
2. How did “re-traditionalization” affect everyday life during the UN embargo and hyperinflation?
3. How do you explain high levels of solidarity in the 1990s Serbia?
4. What long-term consequences did UN embargo have on Serbian society?
5. What are the implications of long-term affects of the UN embargo for post-socialist restructuring and how do they influence functioning of market economy and democracy building?
6. By looking at the Serbian case study, how effective is embargo as a policy tool?


Southeastern Europe