Dace Dzenovska, Senior Researcher and Marie Curie Fellow, COMPAS, University of Oxford
Diaspora work: knowing and governing mobile subjects

In the process of postsocialist transformations, many people were displaced either through setting on the road or as a result of borders moving around them. Yet, diaspora is not necessarily a term that is embraced by the variously displaced postsocialist subjects to make sense of their lives. Rather, it is most often used to analyse the displaced or to govern them. In other words, diaspora has been taken up to do particular kinds of epistemological and political work in a specific historical moment.

In this talk, drawing on ethnographic engagements with Latvian labour migration and diaspora politics, I analyse the emergence of diaspora as a site of government in postsocialist Latvia. I trace how the Latvian state attempts to generate knowledge about its mobile subjects, organizes them into “affiliated diasporic subjects” and “non-affiliated individuals,” as well as tries to make diasporic subjects through affective politics. I argue that the Latvian state re-territorializes sovereign power to legitimate the Latvian state as a “national state,” and ask whether and how the “non-affiliated individuals” can be thought of as political subjects insofar as they escape the sovereign power of the national state even as they remain citizens.

Dace Dzenovska is currently a Marie Curie Fellow at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford. In October, she will take up the position of Departmental Lecturer at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. She holds a PhD and an MA in social cultural anthropology from the University of California in Berkeley, as well as an MA in humanities and social thought from New York University. She is interested in developing Eastern European perspective as an epistemological viewpoint for analysing the European political landscape. Her research projects focus on postsocialist democratization, colonial and racial modes of power, nationalism, and migration. She has published a Latvian-language manuscript on outmigration, as well as numerous articles in international journals. She is currently completing a book manuscript entitled “Complicit Becoming: Nation, Tolerance and Europeanization After Socialism.”


Find out more about the Migration cluster at the Department of Social Anthropology.

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