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Agency at Work

Ethnographies in/of Late Industrialism


Edited By Monika Baer

Rooted in anthropological and ethnological traditions, this volume offers analytical insights into the workings of agency in late industrialism revealed in interactions between a coal power plant and a local community in Opole Silesia, in southwestern Poland. In this context, the authors show by the use of the ethnographic method, how variables and forces of various scales shape political events centered around the power plant; grassroots economic dynamics and entrepreneurship; the local semiosphere uniting the divided social group; affective dimensions of a social protest; (un)doing gender in the industrial workplace; and the mobile livelihoods of migrant industrial workers. By doing so, they concretize in different ways both the concept of late modernity and agency.

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Affective Togetherness: Emotional Dynamics in/of the Field of the Political (Monika Baer)


Monika Baer1

Abstract: This chapter aims to analyze emotional dynamics in/of the field of the political that emerged due to a planned takeover of a part of Dobrzeń Wielki commune by a neighboring city of Opole in Opole Silesia in southwestern Poland. Drawing on an ethnographic detail, it investigates changing forms of affective togetherness that originated from and gave way to grassroots social protests. In particular, the chapter explores “ethics of probability” and “ethics of possibility” connected to the anticipation of an uncertain future that have shaped the discussed social/political processes and phenomena.

Key words: affective togetherness, anticipations, emotions, the political, social protests.

The issue of emotions has been the subject of reflection in social sciences and humanities from the very beginning of shaping their contemporary forms.2 However, the consciously articulated “turn” towards this subject in social and cultural anthropology is usually associated primarily with the 1980s and the names of authors such as Michelle Rosaldo (1980), Lila Abu-Lughod (1986) or Catherine Lutz (1988). Recent decades have brought a wide spectrum of postulates and discussions about what emotions are, as well as how they should be analyzed (e.g. Lutz 2017; Svašek 2002; Skoggard, Waterston 2015). Regardless of specific theoretical and ←95 | 96→methodological assumptions underlying the ongoing debates, one of the elements that binds anthropological analyses in this area is a focus on their agency in the process of (re)creating realities (e.g. Lutz, Abu-Lughod 1990; Svašek 2008b; Ahmed 2014).

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