Managing Ambiguity

How clientelism, citizenship, and power shape personhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina

2017, Berghahn Books


Why do people turn to personal connections to get things done? Exploring the role of favors in social welfare systems in postwar, postsocialist Bosnia and Herzegovina, this volume provides a new theoretical angle on links between ambiguity and power. It demonstrates that favors were not an instrumental tactic of survival, nor a way to reproduce oneself as a moral person. Instead, favors enabled the insertion of personal compassion into the heart of the organization of welfare.

Managing Ambiguity follows how neoliberal insistence on local community, flexibility, and self-responsibility was translated into clientelist modes of relating and back, and how this fostered a specific mode of power.

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Reviews of “Managing Ambiguity”:




Negotiating Social Relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Edited by Stef Jansen, Carna Brkovic, and Vanja Celebicic

2016, Routledge


Exploring recent configurations of social relations in post-socialist, post-war, post-Yugoslav Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), this collection of ethnographic research turns an analytical lens on questions of sociality.

Contributions based on long-term, in-depth research projects explore how people in different parts of BiH make and remake social relations and outline how their practices of sociality relate to donor-set priorities and formal human rights provisions.

The book explores the socio-political concerns which have emerged within BiH, incites interdisciplinary conversations and sheds critical light on ways of engaging with these concerns and discusses forms of sociality, politics and agency which remain largely absent from the official political discourse and practice of local and foreign actors.

The commentaries of specialists who have studied BiH in different ways – sociologists, politicologists, historians – explicitly situate the contribution of ethnographic work in the country.

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Book review “Negotiating Social Relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina“, Reana Senjković, Südosteuropa, 2017