Basic information
Original title:
Seizing the Future: A Comparative Anthropological Study of Expectations of the Future in Southeast Europe (ARRS J6 - 7480)
Researchers involved:
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1 January 2016–31 December 2018

How do people living in precarious times view their future? How do they imagine, invoke and plan their next steps? How can they deal with what does not yet exist? The project proposes a scheme of comparative anthropological research that considers these questions through studying the practical and emotional investments of a range of Serbs, Albanians and Slovenians. All these people operate with particular kind of feelings and perceptions as ways of ordering the present and seeking to bring the future into being. In attending to how people make claims on the future through various forms of expectation, the research hopes to offer an anthropological perspective on how an entrepreneurial mindset, even personality, can thrive in situations of upheaval.

Our main objective is to investigate how the future in these three sites is viewed, planned for and managed, in particular by social entrepreneurs. We define ‘social entrepreneurs’ both as people who describe themselves as such and as those recognised by others as able to innovate in response to pressing social problems (i.e., of marginality, poverty, discrimination, the threat of urban growth/exclusion). Our respondents will include a range of actors across the region: young and experienced strategists, state resource allocators, thinktank staff and other private or public facilitators whose social and organizational activities involve conceiving a different future.

Besides studying what entrepreneurs and others say and do in their organisational activities, we will consider the implicit politics of time management, planning and expectation in their intimate spheres. This means exploring how social entrepreneurs use (and abuse) metaphors of the past and future in squaring up to various issues, such as historical injustice, economic violence and political order. Theoretically, this will contribute to a study of expectations, illuminating ideas of hope, failure, doubt, and conviction, as these modalities come into play when people plan for the future. Our intention is to address both our subjects’ feelings of uncertainty over where they stand, and their concern to plan and command their futures in given ways.

The project, comprising a PI, three core researchers (and two research advisors), will stretch over 36 months. All the researchers have notable and longstanding expertise in the region, whether in Serbia, Albania, or Slovenia. All of them have already established a collaborative dynamic and boast an impressive track record. They are fluent in their working languages (Albanian, Slovenian and Serbian) and have access to various entrepreneurial individuals and groups.


Selected publications:

  • PETROVIĆ-ŠTEGER, Maja. 2016. Understanding self-care : passing and healing contemporary Serbia. In : Materialities of passing : explorations in transformation, transition and transience, (Studies in death, materiality and the origin of time). Eds. Bjerregraard, P. et al. Routledge: London; New York. 2016, str. 113-129. [COBISS.SI-ID 40241197]
  • KOZOROG, Miha. 2016. Triggering movement in places of belonging: Jazz festival organizers as locals-cosmopolitans in a small Slovenian town. In : Moving places : relations, return, and belonging, (EASA series, 29).Eds. Gregorič, N. and J. Repič. Bergahahn:  New York; Oxford. 105-125. [COBISS.SI-ID 62790242]
  • VODOPIVEC, Nina. 2016. Postsocialistična tranzicija v antropološki perspektivi. V: Regionalni vidiki tranzicije, (Zbirka Vpogledi, ISSN 2350-5656, 16). Ur. Lorenčič, A.; Oset, Ž. Ljubljana: Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino. 33-48. [COBISS.SI-ID 3701876]




Lead partner

Project manager


Expectations • Visions of the future • social entrepreneurship • Narratives of crisis • Practical and affective strategies of planning • Serbia • Albania • Slovenia