Anthropology of Uncertainty

International Conference ‘Anthropology of Uncertainty. Society and Culture in Precarious Times’


October 1012, 2024, Blagoevgrad (Bulgaria) 

PDF document is available HERE 

There is a scientific consensus that global uncertainty is a defining characteristic of the modern neoliberal economic and social order (Harvey 2005; Hann, Parry 2018). Uncertainty is multidimensional and has different manifestations – such as economic or employment insecurity (precarity), social, existential, related to feelings of fear and anxiety. The precarious condition of work and life, denoted as precariousness and precarity, expanded its scope in the global North with the end of the Fordist economy, after a relatively long period of economic security and prosperity. In 1997, Pierre Bourdieu wrote: ‘La précarité est aujourd’hui partout’ (precarity is everywhere); Ulrich Beck, at the same time, defined the society we live in as risky, marked by “endemic uncertainty”, and in 2013, Sigmund Baumann said: “What is novel is not uncertainty. what is novel is a realization that uncertainty is here to stay .. we are challenged with a task, which I think is unprecedented – and the task is to develop an art, to develop an srt ofd living permanently with uncertainty”. 

While precarity is fast becoming the new normal for advanced neoliberal societies, spanning broad social strata, for the global South it is a common situation associated with prevalent informal employment, precarious income, poverty and insecurity (Cassiman, A., T. H. Eriksen & L. Meinert 2022). The discourse on precarity has strong political implications, but also an attractive force for social researchers and theorists. Over four decades, a vast amount of research has been done from the USA to Japan, Western Europe, South America and Africa (Butler, 2004; Kallenberg, 2009; Eriksen, 2010; Berlant, 2011; Standing, 2011; Stewart; Allison, 2013; Millar, 2014; Narotzky, Besnier, 2014; Pembroke, 2018; Choonara, 2019; Wimbauer, Motakef, 2020). In the countries of the former socialist bloc, the problems related to insecurity and precarization appeared especially sharply in the process of post-socialist transformation. In Bulgaria, it manifested itself as poly-uncertainty, caused by a combination of various crises – economic, political, ecological, the uncertainty of Bulgarian émigrés and their family members left at home, and after 2020  by the Covid-19 pandemic and the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. 

The purpose of this conference is to place uncertainty and precarization as dynamic social realities that are historically, politically, economically, and culturally embedded, at the center of the discussion. The specifics of post-socialist uncertainty and precarization will be sought, relating to the concepts of crisis, risk, need, care, fear, social trust and mistrust. We would like to discuss issues such as: 

➢ public discourses on uncertainty prevalent these days;

➢ precarization factors and everyday experience;

➢ how the situation of uncertainty and precariousness is described, perceived and experienced by social actors, are there cultural, religious, generational specifics;

➢ how the situation of precarity affects their way of life;

➢ strategies to deal with precarization; ➢ changes in life trajectories, family forms, family relationships, marriage age, birth rate;

➢ sources of social security;

➢ precarization and migration experience;

➢ collective identities as support in uncertain and crisis times;

➢ political attitudes and uncertainty;

➢ environmental uncertainty, strategies for its reduction;

➢ precarization during and after the Covid-19 pandemic; 

Please, send proposals for panels or papers (with title, author(s), institution, an abstract no more than 300 words long, key words) to the following e-mail address: 

Deadline for submission of proposals: 30 May 2024 Deadline for confirmation of accepted proposals: 15 June 2024 Conference languages: Bulgarian and English.  The conference will be held in person, leaving open the possibility of presenting online if necessary.  Organizing Committee: Prof. Dr. Ana Luleva, Prof. Dr. Milena Benovska, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ivanka Petrova, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Iliya Nedin, SAP Dr. Zlatina Bogdanova, Borislav Mutafchijski, Georgi Georgiev. 

The conference is organized within the research project “Anthropology of uncertainty. Continuity and Change in the Post-Socialist Period” funded by the Bulgarian National Science Fund, contract agreement КП-06-Н55/12 from 16.11.2021

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