Barbara Turk Niskac

Barbara Turk Niskač

“Life is all about work”: Growing food as lifestyle politics in Slovenia
Seminar was held at the University of Rijeka on May 11, 2018.
  “In a global drive towards lowering production costs and maximise profits run by corporations and market institutions (Steel 2009), many agree that the global food systems need rethinking (Grasseni 2014). At the same time, various forms of food activism are taking place all over the world from local food and food sovereignty movements, slow food movements, solidarity purchase networks, community supported agriculture, seed swap events, to alternative urban provisioning such as food pooling, food banking, gleaning, freeganism, urban canners and guerrilla gardening.
Moving beyond ethical consumerism, I place the focus of my research at ethical food production. By bringing into discourse Michael Lambek’s ‘ordinary ethics’ (2010), I will look at young families that have intentionally decided to move from urban centres to grow their own food and/or set up a farm, thus placing food production at the forefront of their lifestyle. While the knowledge to the successors of traditional family farms is transmitted through socialisation, I am interested in families that had no previous knowledge of growing vegetables and/or raising animals, and the reasons that lie behind their decisions to pursue such a lifestyle. Following values-based approach to political activism (Lambek 2010), I am particularly concerned with meanings and practices these families attribute to their new lifestyle with regard to food production and dynamics of work, and how they express their concern to the world of neoliberal capitalism and its industrial corporate food systems (Sayer 2011).
Drawing on a study conducted among five families in Slovenia, I will present back-to-the-land movements in the context of food activism in Slovene case study. After providing a short historical overview of the part-time peasants, I will particularly focus on the last decade in the context of political and economic crisis in Slovenian context. Firstly, I aim to understand the rationales behind families’ decisions to produce food as a form of self-sufficiency through the concept of work. I argue that such lifestyle entails also specific dynamics of work, which is not “time purchased from the stream of life” (Henricks 2015: 5), but it also includes social dimension, typical for community-based societies. Therefore, these families represent a counter-narrative to conceptions of family life within post-industrial societies, where work is being excluded as a form of social interaction and learning, and restricted to the understanding of work as a capitalist mode of production. Secondly, by bringing the concept of ‘ordinary ethics’ into discourse on food activism, I examine the concern of these families that they are eating sufficiently good food, and that they have a self-determination of the kind of food they eat.
Finally yet importantly, I suggest that these alternative lifestyles provide a critique of consumer culture and strive towards environmental sustainability and non-capitalist economic relations (Grasseni 2014; Wilbur 2014). Furthermore, I suggest that their decision to pursue alternative lifestyle can be understood as a form of ‘unclaimed activism’ or ‘lifestyle politics’ (Bennett 2006; Nolas 2017). In the face of mass industrial food production, such small-scale localised entrepreneurs and their potential alliances with local consumers represent competitors of mega farms and multinational distribution and preserve social, environmental, and economic diversity, as well as food sovereignty (Grasseni 2014: 53).”

Barbara Turk Niskač, current CAS SEE Fellow, received her PhD in Ethnology, Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Ljubljana (2016), where she worked as a Junior Researcher, and is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor. She was a Visiting PhD Student at the University of Sarajevo, Centre for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies and a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Rutgers University. Her doctoral dissertation Playing at Work, Working at Play: An Ethnographic Study of Learning in Early Childhood examined the relationship between play, work and learning in early childhood in Slovenia. Her main research interests include anthropology of childhood, anthropology of education, anthropology of work, migration and ethnic studies, sensory ethnography and visual anthropology. She is particularly interested in employing participatory visual methods in research with children and youth. Apart from academia, she also worked for International Organization for Migration (IOM – UN Agency).

CAS SEE Fellows at the „Engagement for Social Change: Moving beyond Resistance“ conference

The current, 7th generation of CAS SEE fellows participated in the „Engagement for Social Change: Moving beyond Resistance“ conference held in Belgrade, 19-21 April, 2018.

Francesca Forle presented her paper Rythmòs in Acting Together. A Tool to Improve Stability and Orient Power Hierarchies“ at the “Thinking of Engagement” panel of the first day, together with Olga Nikolić, Igor Cvejić, Sotiria Ismini Gounari and Jelena Vasiljević at the University of Belgrade Rectorate.

During the second day of the conference, current Fellow Polona Sitar presented her paper „Menstrual Movements and Feminist Spirituality: The Red Tent Case Study“ at the “Yes, We Can(‘t): Women’s Engagement” panel with Anna Bednarczyk, Kathleen Zeidler and CAS SEE non-resident Fellow, Monica Cano Abadía presenting her paper on „Risking Vulnerability in Feminist Activism: The #metoo Case“.

The workshop on the book „Where did revolution go?“ by/with Donatella della Porta chaired by Gazela Pudar Draško (Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory) also hosted current Fellows Barbara Turk Niskac, Tiziano Toracca and Filip Milacic, together with researchers from the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory; Jelena Vasiljević, Srđan Prodanović, Marjan Ivković and Irena Fiket.

 

Spring 2018 CAS SEE Fellowship Recipients

The Center for Advanced Studies – Southeast Europe (CAS SEE) was pleased to host the recipients of the Spring 2018 CAS SEE Fellowship Awards at the University of Rijeka, for the first working meeting. The purpose of the CAS SEE Fellowship Programme is to further the research and creative work in the fields of the humanities and humanistic social sciences in the Balkans. Fellows will present their work within the CAS Collegium, creating an intellectually heterogeneous atmosphere and fostering a productive self-examination or even friction, which may lead to new and unexpected ideas and innovation.

Please join us in congratulating the following Spring 2018 CAS SEE Fellowship Awards, University of Rijeka recipients:

Filip Milacic (Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany) – The emergence of identity politics cleavage and its effect on social movements

Tiziano Toracca (University of Perugia, Italy; University of Ghent, Belgium) – Metamorphosis of Labour. The Movement for a Basic Income in the Light of the Modern Paradigm of Labour

Francesca  Forlè  (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Italy) – Rythmòs in Acting Together. Reinforcing Joint Actions, Improving Stability, and Orienting Power Hierarchies

Daniela Brasil (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany) – Emancipatory Learning: New Schools and Artistic Platforms for Social Change

Polona Sitar (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) – Global Menstrual Movements as New Forms of Social Engagement

Barbara Turk Niskac (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) – “Life is all about work”: Growing Food as Lifestyle Politics

Pavao Zitko (University of Perugia, Italy) – Ultramodern Man as a State of Consciousness

2018-2019 CAS SEE FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS

The Center for Advanced Studies – Southeast Europe (CAS SEE) at the University of Rijeka is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018/2019 CAS SEE Fellowship Awards.

The purpose of the CAS SEE Fellowship Programme is to further the research or creative work in the humanities and humanistic social sciences in the Balkans. Fellows will present their work within the CAS-Collegium on a bi-weekly basis, creating an intellectually heterogeneous atmosphere and fostering a productive self-examination and even friction, which may lead to new and unexpected ideas and innovation.

Please join us in congratulating the following 2018-2019 Spring CAS-SEE Fellowship Awards, University of Rijeka recipients:

Filip Milacic (Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany) – The emergence of identity politics cleavage and its effect on social movements

Tiziano Toracca (University of Perugia, Italy; University of Ghent, Belgium) – Metamorphosis of Labour. The Movement for a Basic Income in the Light of the Modern Paradigm of Labour

Francesca  Forlè  (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Italy) – Rythmòs in Acting Together. Reinforcing Joint Actions, Improving Stability, and Orienting Power Hierarchies

Daniela Brasil (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany) – Emancipatory Learning: New Schools and Artistic Platforms for Social Change

Polona Sitar (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) – Global Menstrual Movements as New Forms of Social Engagement

Barbara Turk Niskac (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) – “Life is all about work”: Growing Food as Lifestyle Politics

Pavao Zitko (University of Perugia, Italy) – Ultramodern Man as a State of Consciousness

The 7th generation of fellows will start their collaboration with a working meeting scheduled for 23 February, 2018 at the University or Rijeka.

The 2018-2019 Spring CAS SEE Fellowship Awards winners will be announced on March 19, 2018 at a public event following the 5th anniversary of the Center for Advanced Studies founding at the University of Rijeka.