Society for the Anthropology of Europe
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Displaced Georgians in the de facto Georgia-Abkhazia borderland have lived in a zone of protracted uncertainty and conflict for more than two decades. During the Georgian-Abkhaz war, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgian residents of Abkhazia were forced to flee into Georgia proper. However, members of the displaced community in the borderland maintain their long-existing socio-economic ties with both sides of the border despite shifting legal and military attempts to constrain their rights and mobility. The question of the contingent is a matter of everyday concern that people have to actively navigate in contexts where lives are economically precarious, governance is tactical (Feldman 2008), and legality is shifting. In this ambivalent terrain, seemingly a harmless group of stinkbugs or a swine flu virus unexpectedly becomes eventful and politically transformative by closing borders, creating new crises, and impacting livelihoods across a disputed border. This paper focuses on such “transformative encounters” (Tsing 2015) with nonhumans in exploring long-term displacement and uncertainty, and it argues that these multi-species interactions entangled with larger structures and dynamics shape the ways in which people make lives, experience displacement, and understand their worlds.
*Feldman, Ilana. 2008. Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, authority, and the work of rule, 1917–1967. Duke University Press.
*Tsing, Anna. 2015. The mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton University Press.