Panel at AAA meeting 2011

We would like to call your attention to the following panel at AAA
meeting in Montreal. The presenters would be happy to have other
anthropologists of Eastern Europe in the audience to give feedback.

BETWEEN AUTONOMY AND CONNECTION: CHANGING IDEAS AND PRACTICES OF
SELF-SUFFICIENCY IN POSTSOCIALIST EURASIA

Saturday, November 19, 2011: 10:15-12:00
Montreal Convention Center 513A (Palais des congrès de Montréal)

Chair: Stephen Gudeman (University of Minnesota and Max Planck Institute
for Social Anthropology)
Discussant: Jane I Guyer (Johns Hopkins University)

Abstract
At moments of economic upheaval, how do local communities reshape their
economic lives? Might trade and exchange expand or do communities
retract from the uncertainties of broader relations to become more
self-sufficient? How do individuals, households, and communities
respond? Once an important concept in peasant studies, self-sufficiency
has been relatively neglected in recent anthropological research, since
it has been demonstrated that no community is fully capable of
self-provisioning. However, the ideal of self-sufficiency is important
in many communities and can become prominent during economic
crises.Sahlins (1972) points out that communities may turn inward to
avoid the market and emphasize generalized reciprocity or sharing.
Gudeman (2001) shows that some elements of local economies reflect more
self-sufficiency than others, and that the specific configurations may
determine the ways in which people experience economic crisis.
We expand this line of inquiry by exploring local models, and practices
of self-sufficiency in six post-socialist communities each of which
faced greater economic challenges following 1990.
This panel approaches local ideas of self-sufficiency in terms of
simultaneous autonomy and connectedness. We propose to look at
self-sufficency as an expression of multi-levelled relatedness, which
also allows people to balance between involvement and distancing:
between local cooperation (in-house, intra-kinship, and friendship) and
supra-local networks (institutions, the state, and global policies).
Thus local ideas of self-sufficiency always imply a tension: while
emphasizing disentanglement from one realm, concurrently they posit
dependency/relatedness in another. Such emic concepts testify to the
diversity of human thinking about the economy, discarding therefore a
simplistic assumption of the model of the “rational maximizer.”

Papers
10:15 "We Work to Have": Strategies and Contradictions of
Self-Sufficiency In Moldova
Jennifer R Cash, Max Planck Institute for Social Antrhopology
10:30 "They Work In a Closed Circle": Self-Sufficiency In House-Based
Rural Tourism In the Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria
Detelina Tocheva, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
10:45 Meanings of Self-Sufficiency and Community In a Kyrgyz Village
Nathan Light, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
11:00 "Working with My Own": Ideas of Self-Sufficiency and Forms of
Resistance In a Macedonian Town
Miladina Monova, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
11:15 Emic Understandings of Self-Sufficiency: The Interplay Between
Autonomy and Dependency (Romania)
Monica Vasile, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
11:30 The Ideal of Self-Sufficiency and the Reality of Dependence: A
Hungarian Case
Bea Vidacs, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

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