Emptiness

Making sense of the war in Ukraine

Authors: Volodymyr Artiukh, Emma Rimpiläinen, Dace Dzenovska, Madeleine Reeves, Anna Balazs, Roosa Rytkönen

Location: Eastern Europe, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine

Themes: War

This forum is one attempt to make sense of the war and related events in a constantly shifting landscape. Most of us contributing to this forum are anthropologists. Some of us work explicitly on questions of migration, mobility and displacement. Others have been trying to make sense of how, in shifting political contexts, our informants seek to navigate competing epistemic claims about freedom and truth. Each of us finds ourselves trying to track an avalanche-in-motion, figuring out what the war means for our interlocutors and their families, for their livelihoods and futures, for their practices of social navigation when homes and/or hopes have been upturned.

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Embattled futures on the margins of the liberal empire

Authors: Dace Dzenovska, Taras Fedirko

Location: Latvia, Ukraine

Themes: Geopolitics, The Future

A sense of embattlement has emerged as an increasingly common mode of experiencing the European present and thinking about its future. Is this a reinvigoration of politics or a dangerous amplification of political differences?

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Emptiness forum in Cultural Anthropology

Authors: Dace Dzenovska, Daniel M. Knight

Location: Bosnia, China, Croatia, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Latvia, United Kingdom

Themes: Capitalism, Infrastructure, Materiality, The City, The Future

This series argues that emptiness is emerging as a concrete spatial-temporal coordinate in the global landscape of capitalism and state power, and a heuristic device of political struggles.

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Emptiness and order

Authors: Dace Dzenovska

Location: Latvia

Themes: Connectivity, Museums, Order

...The mess was sorted, but only insofar as it tidied up the in-between space between the old world that had ended, and the new world that could not yet be seen.

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Muzeji un tukšums (in Latvian)

Authors: Dace Dzenovska

Location: Latvia

Themes: Connectivity, Museums, Order

Muzeji ir instrumenti, ar kuru palīdzību sakārtot haosu, kas radies tukšošanās rezultātā. Tie ir arī tilti, ar kuru palīdzību mēģināt pievienoties globālajai apritei un tādējādi – nākotnei. Ja muzeja nav, tad, iespējams, nav arī kārtības, pasaule var paiet garām, un rītdiena labākajā gadījumā būs tāda pati kā šodiena.

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Emptiness: Capitalism without people in the Latvian countryside

Authors: Dace Dzenovska

Location: Eastern Europe, Latvia

Themes: Capitalism, Postsocialism, The Future

As a social formation, emptiness consists of: (1) an observable reality wherein places rapidly lose their constitutive elements (people, infrastructure, services, social networks, and the future); (2) a way of life that emerges in response to such changes, which seem irreversible; and (3) an emic interpretive framework for making sense of the new reality.

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The Timespace of Emptiness

Authors: Dace Dzenovska

Location: Latvia

Themes: Affect, Time

It refers to material reality, insofar as one can see homes without people and tracks without trains. It denotes the dispersal of social relations – without thick networks of friends and neighbors, lives become emptier.... Some people say that the abandoned homes make them feel anxious, even a little nauseous.

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Collaborate with us

If you would like to find out more about the project or contribute a blog on a resonant aspect of your own research to the Field Reports section of our website, please get in touch by writing to emptiness@anthro.ox.ac.uk.