Despite their huge impact on Bosnian citizens’ everyday life, economic and financial aspects of Europeanization remained under-researched within the rich post-Dayton anthropological literature, which so far has been predominantly focused on legal and political issues.
The presentation would like to contribute to filling this gap through an anthropological analysis of economic and financial aspects of the Europeanization process in BiH aimed at highlighting its different temporalities and capturing the interacting effects of its multiple dimensions. This approach stems out from an emic perspective based on Sarajevan households’ experience with credits mainly provided by European commercial banks in the wider framework of the ‘Euroizacija’ (Euroization) process.
The latter can be defined as an open-ended transformation of domestic economy that in BiH preceded the country’s still pending inclusion in the Eurozone. The marking features of this process are the existence of a local currency (Konvertibilna Marka - KM) pegged to the Euro with a fixed exchange rate; a credit sector dominated by European banks (Austrian, Italian, German and Slovenian banks) ; a credit market saturated with “Fx loans” indexed to the Swiss Franc and mainly to the Euro.
With this monetary picture as its background, the presentation will offer an ethnographically informed study of life in a financial periphery as experienced “at the bank counter”.
Deconstructing culturalist explanations on Bosnian financial illiteracy, and adopting a diachronic perspective, it will contextualize the way Europeanization of the banking system is understood and practiced by BiH inhabitants with reference to values orienting consumption of Western European goods and money in a prolonged condition of monetary instability (pre-wartime and wartime).
Furthermore it will provide an “on the ground” analysis of the impact of the post-war financial dynamics on pre-existing knowledge and practices and, above all, on the material and social life of BiH households caught in harsh downward socio-economic mobility. I will show that the latter should be understood in light of the post-war and post-socialist impoverishment but also of the transformation of BiH into a “small open economy”, whose effects on credits became visible in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 crisis in the Eurozone.
Zaira Lofranco (PhD) is an adjunct professor of social and cultural anthropology at the State University of Milan. Since 2005 her fieldwork research activity has been devoted to contemporary economic and political issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). She has been member of the international project Eastbordernet, an interdisciplinary network exploring the remaking of borders at the eastern European peripheries (2010-2013) where she particularly contributed to the working group money and borders. She has been research fellow in the EU funded project ANTICORRP (Anticorruption Policies Revisited) (2013-2014) within which she carried out an ethnography of corruption in the BiH public employment system. In 2018 she has been a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (financialization group) and she is currently working on socio-anthropological aspects of financialization and in particular on consumer credits.