People and things in the ethnography of borders: Materialising the division of Sarajevo

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Abstract

This article addresses the contrasting pull of two tendencies in anthropology: (a) calls to redress the purification of human from non-human actants and (b) calls to denaturalise notions of borders as things, foregrounding borderwork. The resulting dilemma - do we treat people and things as equivalent actants on a 'flat' plane or not?- is explored through an ethnographic exercise on the border that divides Sarajevo. This case study crystallises methodological possibilities, implications for critique and matters of accountability presented by either path. Ultimately, I argue, a focus on things is productive insofar as it functions within a focus on human practice. © 2013 European Association of Social Anthropologists.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Anthropology
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013