Dace Dzenovska: "School of Europeanness: Tolerance and Other Lessons in Political Liberalism in Latvia"

Departmental Seminar Series features Daze Dzenovska, Associate Professor in Anthropology of Migration at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.

The seminar is followed by informal gathering, at which refreshments are served. All are welcome!

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Abstract

In the 1990s, the global victory of liberalism as the blueprint for organizing economic and political life seemed certain. Today it no longer does. Governing elites in Western liberaldemocracies are concerned about risks posed by a variety of “illiberal populisms.”Transnational coalitions involving Eastern European nationalists and North Atlantic strategistswarn that the “international liberal order” is under threat from Russia. And academics are calling for reflection on liberalism’s political failures.

Drawing on ethnographic research on tolerance promotion in Latvia, I argue that thesedebates fail to consider the specific contours of the “actually existing” political liberalism. Post-Cold War liberalism as a historical formation comes into view most clearly in liberalism’smissionary encounters with people thought to have lost their way as a result of living under“actually existing socialism.” These encounters show the underlying tensions of post-Cold War political liberalism in Europe, such as the need to draw boundaries around liberal democratic polities while emphasizing the virtues of inclusion, openness, and tolerance. Ultimately, they reveal the actually existing post-Cold War liberalism to be an ideological formation that misrecognizes itself as a politically neutral set of tools for organizing collective life.

Research Profile 

Dace Dzenovska is Associate Professor in Anthropology of Migration at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. She has specialized in political anthropology and is focusing in the areas of geopolitics of mobility and migration, forms of statehood, sovereignty, and capitalism in post-Cold War Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and (post)socialism as a critical lens for analysis of ‘late liberalism’ and corresponding knowledge practices in anthropology. 

Dace holds a doctoral and master’s degrees in social cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree in humanities and social thought from New York University. Further information.

Published Jan. 8, 2020 7:12 PM - Last modified Jan. 9, 2020 6:39 PM