Schwab, Eva

B.A. 2010 (Sociology and Social & Cultural Anthropology), University of Münster, Germany

M.A. 2012 (Social & Cultural Anthropology), University of Vienna, Austria

Dissertation Project

The Nuisance of 'Unhygienic Settlements' in Belgrade: Disciplining Subjects and Reorganizing the Waste Sector

With 43% of the housing built without building licenses and against zoning regulations, Belgrade is one of the cities that brought the UNECE (2009) to problematize informality in Europe. Informality is here depicted as the common denominator for social, political and economic inequalities that appeared in Eastern Europe following the transition to capitalism. With this diagnosis at hand, the report asks for more planning and regulation for certain urban areas, populations and practices, e.g. sites of informality that are ontologically different from their formal counterparts and divided from them by a ‘developmental gap’. In my project I will trace the process in which ‘informality as developmental gap’ is mobilized to legitimate the reorganization of property relations and rights among the inhabitants of a small portion of informal settlements in Belgrade. The project will study how the problematization of ‘unhygienic settlements’ – as being populated mostly by Roma, hotbeds of poverty and ecologically unsustainable dumps – draws a specific set of corporate, state, civil society and humanitarian actors into the process of urban valorization. Under the banner of improving both population and environment the governmental assemblage that has emerged around ‘unhygienic settlements’ has produced new regulations and built structures that have since reorganized the social housing as well as the recycling sector. By ethnographically analyzing a social housing project and a social micro-enterprise for waste pickers and different forms of nuisance that are declared in these sites, I will investigate how people from ‘unhygienic settlements’ and the way they relate to urban objects and territories (in terms of practices and property relations) are disciplined. I will follow the specific way in which the declaration of nuisance (and the associated discourse of improving population and environment), opens urban areas, populations and practices to processes of revalorization that work on the grounds of strategically shifting relations between market/non-market, formal/informal and rendering populations and practices in-place/out-of place. I will investigate how these impact on chains of valorization and socio-economic rights.

Research Interests:

Legal anthropology, bureaucracy, nuisance and aesthetic politics, urban planning, Roma, governing through community, urban citizenship