Ungovernance and Anti-Governance. Examples from the Caucasus
Votrag von Florian Mühlfried – Staatliche Ilia-Universität.
Distrusting political authority has significantly lost legitimacy over the past years of Corona and populism. Where shamans demonstrate side-by side with fascists, visions of alternative political orders turn into nightmares. In this process of revaluation, the political and emancipatory potential of distrust is quickly disregarded. As internalised anti-governance, it contributes significantly to democratic control. And as a practice of ungovernance, it counteracts the hardening of rule. While anti-governance is part of the repertoire of liberalism, ungovernance is a non-ideological form of anarchism.
Based on case material from the Caucasus, Florian Mühlfried intends to outline ways of transforming distrust into political engagement. In respect to forms of ungovernance, he will illustrate how some societies residing in remote parts of highland Georgia are not only organized against the state as an external entity, but also against the “rise of the cold monster of the state in their midst” (Pierre Clastres). Another form of ungovernance is the liminalisation of labour and authority during the Georgian banquet (supra). Anti-governance, by contrast, will be elaborated in reference to forms of political and social contestation that rely of resources provided by the state.
Florian Mühlfried is a Professor of Social Anthropology at Ilia State University. He has been a Lecturer at the Tbilisi State University, a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, a Visiting Professor at the State University of Campinas (Brazil), and an Assistant Professor at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany). His publications include the monographs Ungovernance and Anti-Governance (2022, in German), Mistrust: A Global Perspective (2019) and Being a State and States of Being in Highland Georgia (2014), the edited volume Mistrust: Ethnographic Approximations (2018), as well as the co-edited volumes Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces: Religious Pluralism in the Post-Soviet Caucasus (2018) and Exploring the Edge of Empire: Soviet Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia (2011). His German book about mistrust (2019) has been nominated for the Tractatus Prize and translated into Greek and Georgian. He is an editor of the journal Caucasus Survey and a member of the editorial board of the Cambridge Journal for Anthropology. His research interests include citizenship, the state, mistrust, interreligious relations, migration, rituals, and food.
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