Anticipating the Blocked Future": Transitions to Adulthood and Migration Aspirations in Serbia"

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Anticipating the Blocked Future": Transitions to Adulthood and Migration Aspirations in Serbia"

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This dissertation uses ethnographic discourse analysis and qualitative interviews to understand how young aspiring emigrants in contemporary Serbia think about the future. While the Yugoslav period was rhetorically obsessed with building a utopian socialist future, and the immediate post-2000 transition regime allowed Serbians to look towards a new “European” future, the future today appears to have lost its long-held promise of “progress.” Under the context of economic deregulation, the retraction of the welfare state, political disenchantment, and rising youth out-migration, the future instead appears “blocked” in the country. In this work, I map a ubiquitous discourse of the “blocked future” as it appears in everyday life, and emerges as a structure of feeling to cope with and process the constrained material situation Serbia’s young adults face. Focusing on aspiring emigrants who entered the workforce after the 2000 revolution, I show how discussions about emigration become a route to express political discontent in private and public spheres after formal channels for political participation have proven to be ineffective. Engaging in the core aspects of the “transition to adulthood” — the movement from education to employment, independent housing, reproduction, and the role of the state — I show how the loss of structures which once undergirded what is locally called a “normal life” make emigration appear as the most viable route to achieving these once-normative (but increasingly destandardized and protracted) markers of independence. In bringing into conversation those who already left and those who aim to leave, I likewise show how the transposition of “normality” to “organized countries” places an incredible burden on Serbia’s emigrants to maintain the image of agentic “possibility” in their lives abroad despite their individual struggles with restrictive visa regimes and precarious labor conditions.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2020. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Teresa Gowan. 1 computer file (PDF); 174 pages.

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Andic, Tanja. (2020). Anticipating the Blocked Future": Transitions to Adulthood and Migration Aspirations in Serbia". Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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