Hopes and Visions: Business, Culture and Capacity for Imagining Local Future in Southeast Serbia

  • Ildiko Erdei Odeljenje za etnologiju i antropologiju Filozofski fakultet Univerzitet u Beogradu
Knjaževac, regional inequality, local development, economy and culture, hope


Knjaževac and its surroundings represent a local region that shares the destiny of the ‘global south’. The inhabitants perceive the region as neglected and forgotten by the state and political structures from the Belgrade ‘center’, claiming that Knjaževac is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped regions in Serbia. Nevertheless, in the last couple of years some fresh business and social development projects have been initiated, which has opened up prospects for imagining a new future for the local community. The aim of the paper will be to present the current state of affairs in the domain of economic development in the region and to point to the cultural dimension of that process. Following Appadurai, I argue that economic development can not be accomplished without the capacity to imagine the future, and this capacity, in turn, gets stronger as development plans gain their real effects. I will try to show how new business actors use common traditional cultural forms, such as belief in the skills and the power of fortunetellers, in imagining and legitimating a sense of self. I will also point to the other ways of evocation and "capturing" of the orientation toward future, as "project-oriented" thinking and acting of the local NGO, and "visionary" capacity reated to civic activism.


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How to Cite
Erdei, Ildiko. 2009. “Hopes and Visions: Business, Culture and Capacity for Imagining Local Future in Southeast Serbia”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 4 (3), 81-102. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v4i3.5.