Civil-society Building, 'Advanced Liberal' Governmentality and the State in Serbia

Date: Oct, 2011
ODID Working Paper No. 190
Author(s): Marek Mikus (London School of Economics and Political Science)

The democratisation of governance in postsocialist Eastern Europe has been associated with civil-society building through international development initiatives. Anthropologists criticised it as 'NGO-isation' and building of a 'project society'. This paper deals with latest stages of civil-society building in Serbia, typified by the development of 'public advocacy' and 'local fundraising'. In my anthropological work-in-progress, I study such programs of the Balkan Community Initiatives Fund, a Belgrade re-granting foundation, and its grantee organizations in Serbia.

These initiatives introduce 'advanced liberal' governmentality to Serbia which constructs relationships of civil society and 'political society' in a depoliticised manner consistent with the assumptions of good governance. Taking my cues from the polity approach, governmentality theory and anthropology of the state and postsocialism, I show how civil society interacts with the state in practice when being 'developed' in a context shaped by socialist and ethnonationalist governmentalities.

ODID Author(s)