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Volume 31

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Managing Ambiguity

How Clientelism, Citizenship, and Power Shape Personhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Čarna Brković

208 pages, 2 figures, 1 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-414-6 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (July 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-415-3 eBook

Hb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors


“There is much to love about this book - the choice to address what is extremely rich ethnographic material through three interlocking analytical categories: personhood, citizenship, and power creates the possibilities for an incredibly productive exploration of everyday life, sociality and social welfare.” · Paul Stubbs, Institute for Economics, Zagreb


Why do people turn to personal connections to get things done? Exploring the role of favors in social welfare systems in postwar, postsocialist Bosnia and Herzegovina, this volume provides a new theoretical angle on links between ambiguity and power. It demonstrates that favors were not an instrumental tactic of survival, nor a way to reproduce oneself as a moral person. Instead, favors enabled the insertion of personal compassion into the heart of the organization of welfare.

Managing Ambiguity follows how neoliberal insistence on local community, flexibility, and self-responsibility was translated into clientelist modes of relating and back, and how this fostered a specific mode of power.

Čarna Brković is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg. She co-edited Negotiating Social Relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and won the 2015 SIEF Young Scholar Prize.

Subject: General Anthropology Peace & Conflict Studies Postwar History
Area: Southern Europe


Note on transliteration



Chapter 1. Creating Knowledge about Others: Locating, Knowing “by Sight”, and Ethnography
Chapter 2. Favors Reproduce Social Personhood


Chapter 3. Local Community and Ethical Citizenship: Neoliberal Reconfigurations of Social Protection
Chapter 4. Pursuing Favors within a Local Community


Chapter 5. Managing Ambiguity in Social Protection
Chapter 6. Navigating Ambiguity: the Moveopticon

Conclusion: Morality, Interest, and Sociality in the Global Postsocialist Condition


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