On which side of history?
by the Idle Ethnographer
I took this photo through the glass doors of the US embassy in Berlin. The division between East and West Berlin isn’t that stark anymore; and now I wouldn’t be hasty to declare the western side colourful and the other one bleak. But for me this frame recreates the ideology of the longing for freedom which, we once thought, was greater in the west. It also reminds me of some of the tragedy of post socialist transition: ex-soc countries joined the tail end of a post-industrial capitalism which was already changing. A moving target, so to say. And we conflated the ideology of democracy with that of a free market. Perhaps now, with the protests in Bulgaria which are currently under way (sadly neglected by western media although they are in part inspired by the ones in neighbouring Turkey) the year 1989 has finally been superseded by a newer watershed: 2013, the year of street revolutions against governments of all political colours which do not work for the good of their country. As I am currently away from Bulgaria, I can’t add my two feet to the protests (which you can find on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtags #BulgariaExists and #ДАНСwithme). I can only read news, blog, and hope.
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The Idle Ethnographer (who isn’t at all idle, and is actually a sociologist) is Milena Kremakova. Milena writes the Sociological Imagination together with Mark Carrigan, writes a book on maritime working lives in Bulgaria after 1989, is about to start a huge and interesting new project on the early careers of mathematicians and computer scientists in the UK and Germany, and does many other fun things which means she also has trouble finding time to sleep. You can get in touch with her by email.
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