Dynamics of Demographic Panic across Europe

Dana Johnson
PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Dace Dzenovska
Associate Professor in Anthropology of Migration, University of Oxford

Panel abstract:
Population politics are alive and well across Europe. From Italy to Poland, the “crisis of presence” (Krause 2018) provoked by the racialized figure of the new immigrant collides with resurgent pronatalist efforts to coax reproduction of the “right” kind of nation. Governments from Switzerland to Serbia have devised schemes to reverse the depopulation of villages. Meanwhile, the emigration of “young talent” from the continent’s semi-periphery is cast as a problem to be solved by youth themselves through assuming the risks of entrepreneurship. Yet research on these phenomena tends to remain in narrowly construed subfields. The politics of migration management, the material manifestations of freshly delineated borders, and the overdetermined figure of the vulnerable refugee pitted against the unsympathetic “economic migrant” are all mutually constituting dimensions of movement in Europe that beg to be brought into closer dialogue. Mirroring these fields, the social and economic politics of “maternity capital” and other incentives to bear children, renewed attempts to outlaw abortion, and the proliferation of public fertility campaigns reveal parallel assertions of state power over the life projects of its citizens.

This panel will bring together scholars working on the interlocking concerns of demographic panic that casts the nation-state in crisis and its citizens as prone to heightened “existential melancholy” (Krastev 2017:50). How do people resist or adapt to but also subvert and confound efforts to control their movement and shape their futures in the national interest? How are meanings of national belonging and citizenship reworked in the process? How are ideas of a “normal” life course folded in? We invite contributions grounded in the politics of migration and reproduction in Europe as well as others that seek to ethnographically illuminate the lived experience of demographic panic. This panel will highlight the contribution of ethnography to debates over both individual and collective futures and the theoretical insights to be exchanged between those working on the multiple dimensions of population politics.

If interested, please send abstracts of up to 250 words to Dana Johnson at dnjohnso@anthro.umass.edu by March 28, 2018. Applicants will be notified by April 2, 2018.

The final deadline for panel proposals and conference registration is April 16, 2018.