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Original scientific paper

On the Side of Predictable. Visioning the Future in Serbia

Maja Petrović-Šteger orcid id ; Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies ZRC SAZU and Postgraduate School ZRC SAZU – Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana
Jessica Greenberg ; Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Sanja Potkonjak orcid id ; Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb
Tea Škokić orcid id ; Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb
Ivan Rajković orcid id ; Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Vienna
Felix Ringel orcid id ; Department of Anthropology, Durham University

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Full text: croatian pdf 1.240 Kb

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In order to be able to contextualize and understand social worlds, anthropologists pay close attention. We observe how individuals and communities relate to each other and to their ideas. We study the intimate and subjective, as well as the large-scale cosmologies by which people make themselves and the world. Our participatory methods and reflective analysis document the complex, intricate, patterned, and also random aspects of people’s reasoning and actions. These activities, on anthropology’s part, supposedly offer not only critical descriptions of the present (on its historical trajectories), but possible intimations of a society’s future. Anthropological analysis, in other words, not only describes but also anticipates. This position paper focuses on the notions of anticipation, predictability, and possibility in anthropology. It asks what methodological and theoretical assumptions are built into our ways of making predictions about our field sites. It invites the reader to consider the effects certain anticipatory practices have for the people and phenomena we study as well as for the discipline. Centrally, the paper proposes different ways of attending to visions that anticipate the future. By reflecting on my ethnographic and analytical journeys in Serbia, I attempt to explain why I currently make so much of questions of predictability and possibility in both the field and the discipline. My desire is to open up a discussion on the value of cultivating attention to what seems to emerge on the side of predictable.


societal self-understanding; social transformations; visionaries; anticipation of future; theoretical assumptions; Serbia

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