‘Postdoc Track Pilotprogamme’ grant, project working title: ‘Imagining a “smart” future in Southeast Asia’

The aim of this grant is to enable scholars in the immediate post-doc phase to work on publications, develop project proposals and establish international contacts. The project that is being elaborated aims to explore imaginings and anticipations of the future in urban Southeast Asia. The project builds on previous work on social cognition in a work context in North Africa, where planning and imaginative perspective taking took centre stage in the work process.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: February 2017 - July 2017

Funding: Austrian Academy of Sciences (Postdoc Track Pilotprogramme)

Project Grantee: Barbara Götsch

Diversity and Coexistence in a Peaceful Balkan Border Region: The Shkodra/Skadar region in the forefront of EU-Accession

This project explores patterns and dynamics of socio-cultural heterogeneity and coexistence in the Shkodra/Skadar region along the Albanian/Montenegrin border against the background of contemporary European/EU models and policies of multiculturalism and diversity. The chosen region is a fruitful ground for comparison since it includes: two national-state contexts (Albania and Montenegro) with "inverse" minority groups (Serb/Montenegrins and Albanians); pronounced ethnic and religious diversity (including a similar religious "constellation" of the coexistence of Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism and Islam); common and yet different historical legacies (e.g. Ottoman Empire, Venice, Socialism); the present context of EU-accession; similar historical social structures and ideologies (tribes/clans, patriarchy). The first major concern of the project is exploring the contemporary "encounter" between this multiethnic and multi-confessional border region of South-Eastern Europe and European/EU models and policies of multiculturalism and diversity. The second major concern of the project is the inquiry into points of reference people from the region use – with a primary focus on minorities – in their life stories, family histories (and genealogies) and everyday lives to describe and locate their sense of belonging. The third major concern of the project is to illuminate how the Shkodra/Skadar region managed to stay peaceful in spite of violent conflicts in the direct neighbourhood, ethnic tensions and the influx of a large number of refugees. The theoretical reference points relevant for the project are: discourses on the "Balkans"; multiculturalism and diversity; Identity/Ethnicity/Nationalism; anthropology of the state; and anthropological contributions to the study of the region. A multidimensional and multilevel research design will allow for focussing on the dimensions of grammars/regimes, agents and everyday practices of diversity and the levels of the individual, the family and formations of civil society, yet will continuously take into account the national and transnational macro-levels of the state, the region and the EU. The methodology will consist of fieldwork/multi-sited ethnography, regional comparison and qualitative interviews. The project builds on my long-time research on civil society and transformations of value-systems in the context of post-socialism and the paradoxical/ambivalent construction of the "Balkans" and its impact on contemporary socio-political realities in the region. The envisaged outcome of the project is an ethnography which explanatory portrays the dynamics of diversity and coexistence in the Shkodra/Skadar border region against the prospective EU-membership. In the wider sense the proposed project will represent a substantial contribution to comparative studies of multiethnic and multi-confessional border regions in Europe and hence contribute both to anthropological and social science discussions of multiculturalism/diversity and European diversity and minority policies. 

Hard Facts

Project Duration: December 2014 - December 2017

Funding: Austrian Academy of Sciences 

Project Leader: Jelena Tošić