Disertacija se temelji na etnografskom istraživanju rada u humanitarnim organizacijama i udrugama civilnog društva u Hrvatskoj koje se bave pružanjem pomoći izbjeglicama i migrantima. Započinje teorijsko-povijesnim pregledom razvoja humanitarnoga sektora i međunarodne industrije humanitarne pomoći. Pri tome, oslanja se na proturječja koja su pratila rad humanitarnih organizacija od 19. stoljeća naovamo. Propitivanjem normi i trendova liberalnog humanitarizma i njegova odnosa s konceptima civilnoga društva i nevladinih organizacija, disertacija otvara prostor za analizu specifičnosti humanitarnoga sektora u suvremenom hrvatskom kontekstu. Na temelju polustrukturiranih intervjua s humanitarnim djelatnicima i sudioničkog promatranja u humanitarnim inicijativama/organizacijama pokrenutima tijekom masovnoga tranzita izbjeglica 2015. i 2016., disertacija proučava aspekte u kojima se ogledaju proturječja koja u sektoru humanitarnog rada proizlaze iz sraza predodžbe o humanitarizmu kao, s jedne strane, altruističnom djelovanju i, s druge strane, industriji humanitarne pomoći. Uz to, propituje različita tumačenja humanitarizma u „profesionalnim“ i „vernakularnim“ humanitarnim organizacijama. Prateći birokratizaciju i institucionalizaciju neovisnih humanitarnih inicijativa, disertacija posvećuje značajnu pozornost transformacijama rada u uvjetima kasnoga kapitalizma, a posljedično i načinu na koji se te transformacije odražavaju u humanitarnom sektoru u Hrvatskoj. Naposljetku, adresira prekarizaciju i projektifikaciju humanitarnoga rada i fenomen profesionalnog sagorijevanja karakterističan za pomagačka zanimanja, a kojemu pristupa iz perspektive afektivnoga rada. Propituje procese psihologizacije i patologizacije humanitarnog i zagovaračkog angažmana, i praksi u kojima se očituje dinamika između repolitizacije i depolitizacije stradanja, a posljedično i humanitarnoga rada. Istraživanje pokazuje da se priroda humanitarnoga rada nalazi u ambivalentnom odnosu između emocionalnoga rada i nastojanja radnika da se u tom procesu zaštite od sagorijevanja, a da u tom procesu ne postanu indiferentni subjekti depolitizirajućega režima skrbi o izbjeglicama i ljudima u pokretu.
|Abstract (english)|| |
This dissertation focuses on the notion of humanitarian work in contemporary Croatia. Specifically, it explores refugee aid workscape, with an emphasis placed on work experiences and processes of aid workers. Bearing in mind the critique of humanitarianism that sees humanitarian work as a form of biopolitical governance and an ambivalent system of care and control, this thesis explores in what ways these antagonisms influence the work of humanitarians and employees of the nonprofit sector in Croatia. Emphasis is placed on the transformation of humanitarian work following the concept of affective labor, and a post- Foucauldian understanding of governance and self-care. Accordingly, the dissertation offers an anthropological analysis of work in humanitarian organizations that provide aid to refugees/migrants/asylum seekers in the contemporary Croatian context, taking into account their precarious and projectified working conditions. It starts off by exploring humanitarianism through history, tracing the contradictions inherent to humanitarianism and its development from 19th-century philanthropy to international profession and industry. It analyzes different shapes of humanitarianism and traces how the dominant perception of liberal western humanitarianism has been created, and what are the norms, trends, and politics that define this perception. It shows the development and meaning of non-governmental organizations and civil society and their complex relationship to the concept of humanitarianism. For the international community, predominantly led by Western countries, the end of the Cold War signaled the long-awaited expansion of liberalism, which was no longer limited by Cold War relations. The last decade of the 20th century represents a turning point that is reflected in the nexus of humanitarianisma, liberalism and interventionism in war and postwar environments as well as in the global transformations in the area of work. These two aspects represent the two axes on which this dissertation relies when questioning the contemporary forms, discourses and antagonisms of aid work. The relationship between the seemingly opposed notions such as “help” and “work”, “emotions” and “rationality” or “amateurism” and “professionalism” that frequently accompanied conversations and appeared during fieldwork has been taken as the starting point for examining the relationship between transformation of humanitarianism and transformastion of work. These relationships, contradictions and transformations of humanitarianism, NGO sector and aid work are explored in the Croatian post-transitional context taking into account that the development of civil society in Croatia took place in post-war and transitional circumstances, which impacted the positioning of civil society and humanitarian organizations in the contemporary context. In addition, it explores the emergence of new humanitarian initiatives and the processes of bureaucratization and institutionalization of grassroots humanitarianism. The mass transit of refugees in Croatia in 2015. and 2016. prompted the humanitarian and advocacy engagement of various actors – individuals, international agencies, and civil society organizations – and even the establishment of new initiatives and NGOs. It also increased the possibilities for funds and grants related to European Union and other international donors. A new humanitarian and advocacy niche has been established in the labor market, with a significant increase in the number of individuals, collectives, initiatives, and organizations involved in working with refugees and migrants. The author conducted ethnographic research that consists of ethnography of work in the Winter Reception and Transit Center in Slavonski Brod during the mass refugee transit in 2015/2016, participant observation among employees and volunteers in civil society organizations and initiatives that provide aid to refugees, and semi-structured interviews with volunteers and aid workers. This applies in particular to (1) interlocutors who were engaged in the refugee camp in Slavonski Brod, some of whom have continued to work in similar jobs until today, and (2) interlocutors who joined one of the humanitarian and/or human rights organizations subsequently and who, during this research, actively work or volunteer on programs related to contemporary migration and refugee regimes. Interviews covered employment experiences, motivations, expectations, and possible deviations from expectations, as well as difficulties that aid workers deal with such as the growing phenomenon of burnout. Relying on interviews and participative ethnography the author captured tensions between different understandings of humanitarianism. Specific focus was placed on the relationship between humanitarianism perceived in relation to concepts such as solidarity and activism on one side, and humanitarianism perceived as a highly professionalized and bureaucratized aid industry on the other. The main focus of this research was to explore in which ways, practices, and discourses the tension between the two perspectives about humanitarianism reflects in the labor processes of aid workers and in what ways the Croatian regime of care that refugees/migrants/people on the move are subjected to encapsulates those tensions. The concept of affective labor enabled understanding of the taxing experience of aid work and highlighted the entanglement of ethics, politics, and affects in the humanitarian sector. After the historical and theoretical insights into the development of the humanitarian industry, together with the antagonisms that followed its creation and transformation, and by using the narrative analysis based on interviews and ethnographic accounts, this dissertation explores (1) the ways the aid system has been commodified in the Winter Transit and Reception Camp in Slavonski Brod, (2) the ways grassroots/independent humanitarianisms have been developed during the mass refugee transit and (3) how these independent and/or volunteer initiatives risk being co-opted by the neoliberal/late capitalistic management techniques. Using the dialectical relationship between the processes of depoliticization and repoliticization of suffering, this dissertation explores the labor processes of aid and advocacy work having in mind the different positionalities of humanitarian organizations. The main focus is placed on the labor invested in overcoming the gap between taxing emotional, moral, and affective forms of labor and the processes of professionalization and bureaucratization that reproduce the uneven power relationship characteristic of a humanitarian regime. The latter gap pointed out the importance of self-care not only as a desirable practice within the taxing refugee aid workscape, but as a tool for shifting the interpretation of the problem produced by policies of migration/refugee regimes from their external sources to the internal level of aid workers. This is normally done by encouraging workers to optimize their capacities and skills when it comes to processing unjust practices, political decisions, and policies. However, most interlocutors demonstrate how an overwhelming landscape of refugee aid and a lack of experience or a lack of institutional protection can easily compromise the mental health of humanitarian workers. This research shows that it is precisely in the process of finding the balance between “care for others” and “care for oneself” (the humanitarian impulse and imperative of self-care) that affective labor takes place. After considering these processes through the notions of psychologization and pathologization of aid and advocacy work, the thesis interrogates the relationship between humanitarianism and feminism. Specifically, it explores volunteer work through the lens of the theory of social reproduction and the work practices that encapsulate the tensions between the subversive and exploitative capacity of emotional labor. Finally, this dissertation explores intersections of different forms and understandings of humanitarianism in the contemporary aid workscape in Croatia. It showed that the focus of the notion of work in humanitarian studies helps to grasp the ambivalent nature of humanitarianism. It points out that it consists of a dialectical relationship between emotional and rational capacities. These two parts of work consider emotional work that refers to interaction, communication, empathy, and care, and the efforts invested by workers not to burn out due to exhaustive and stressful work conditions. While the first level involves investing emotions and affects that cannot be quantified, the second level is determined by the attempts of humanitarians to establish control over the intensity and scope of care they invest in aid work. Next to rethinking different forms and shapes of the antagonisms of humanitarian work, the thesis explores the potential of emotional/affective labor suggesting that the process of repoliticization of labor in humanitarian and NGO sector can lead the process of overcoming these antagonisms.