Justice for David, Justice for All of Us: Space-Taking Politics and Post-Socialist Affects in the European Periphery by Danijela Majstorović

Polina Manolova’s report on ‚Justice for David, Justice for All of Us: Space-Taking Politics and Post-Socialist Affects in the European Periphery‘ by Danijela Majstorović, May 07th.

In her very engaging presentation Danijela Majstorović sets out to explore the affective underpinnings of a widely reported ‘Justice for David’ movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska that was set in motion in 2018 after the mysterious death of 21-year-old David Dragicevic. In this new research project, she analyses the largest social protests in post-war BiH as a social practice constituted by assemblages of visual and discursive representations, embodied experiences and different materialities that carry and produce affective resonance. Danijela’s work demonstrates some of the potentialities that the conceptual toolkit of affect holds to the study of social change and power, especially, its ability to connect deeply intimate suffering (such as the one provoked by a death of a child), corporeal feelings and personal biographies with public events of grief and resistance, as well as structural processes of socio-economic and political change. In a post-war, post-Dayton BiH the death of David had become a break point that disrupted and openly rejected decades of ethnonationalist politics by bringing together ethnic and religious others as affected and affecting bodies of the risen suppressed. Such affective mobilisations are, according to Danijela, not only a cathartic release of bottled up suffering and sense of disempowerment produced by war terror and socio-economic devastation but an opportunity for (re-)imagining alternative political present from a European periphery entrenched in a ‘chain of suffering’. Danijela’s presentation opens up for discussion two main questions, both with important theoretical, methodological and political repercussions. Firstly, she notes on the methodological difficulties related to the operationalisation of affect and its workings and in this relation and asks how can one capture the embodiment of affect which always contains an intangible, pre-conscious and underdetermined surplus. Secondly, in a self-reflective move, Danijela finishes up with reflection on the moral, ethical and political consequences of researching highly divisive, traumatised and socially scarred contexts. One way of challenging the hierarchical and often exploitative dependencies on which the relationship between researcher and researched is based, Danijela proposes, is the shoulder-to-shoulder political struggle for carving out common visions of equal, just and democratic present.