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Title: Between warfare and welfare : veterans' associations and social security in Serbia
Author: Dokic, Goran
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 9266
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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This dissertation focuses on Serbian veterans of the post-Yugoslav wars and their attempts to secure symbolic and material recognition from the state after losing a series of wars. My main goal is to examine some of the main features of Serbia’s welfare system and to explore the ways in which war veterans negotiated their entitlements and secured access to social care. On a different level, I analyse Serbia’s transformation from a socialist society to a free market economy – a process in which a large part of the veteran population seems to have been caught in the middle, between warfare and welfare. I raised the following questions: (1) in what ways did the Serbian state provide for the population of war veterans, (2) what was the role of VAs in this process, (3) how did the interplay between actors and their position within the local political and economic landscape influence veterans’ prospects for social recognition and access to care, and (4) how did war veterans justify their demands and in what ways did they reproduce or transform the official rhetoric that validated or challenged their privileged position? Therefore, this study is an analysis of the predicaments of Serbian veterans of the post-Yugoslav wars and the ways in which they were constructed, articulated and mobilised as a discourse and tool to differentiate and bestow a particular social group with particular rights to state resources. This was occurring in what I described as zones of ambiguities and unsolved contradictions due to the fact that two decades after post-Yugoslav wars, Serbia still had no official records about the exact number of killed and missing persons, or about the size of its veteran population. This also means that the state officialdom had no information about postwar living conditions of a large portion of its population, which impacted veterans’ and other people’s ideas about nationality, the state and their rights as Serbian citizens. Veterans voiced their discontent with the state and wider society through what I have observed as narratives of multiple lacks and losses that pointed to particular sites of ‘injury’ that affected their sense of dignity. In the process of making their claims for status recognition they competed with other groups in Serbian civil society over their respective positions in a hierarchy of victims in need of state protection. This could be described as a paradoxical process in which subjects seem to oppose the state while replicating forms of state power to gain recognition. I analyse the practices through which war veterans consolidated and communicated their demands for recognition as well as the responses by the Serbian state and society to those demands while, following Foucault, treating both acts as techniques of government and exercises in governmentality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ; University of Manchester
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology, governmentality, Serbia, the state, war veterans, welfare provision