Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Jennifer L. Fluri

Second Advisor

Timothy Oakes

Third Advisor

Joe Bryan

Fourth Advisor

David Sutton

Fifth Advisor

Melissa Caldwell

Abstract

This dissertation examines on-going crisis and endurance in the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia which has experienced a number of transformations and upheavals over the past 30 years. In Armenia, struggle and resilience are embedded in the textures of everyday life, and nationalist narratives celebrate Armenians’ abilities to resist and endure in the face of constant threat. These narratives are not gender neutral, however. They are grounded in traditional notions of a patriarchal family and gendered divisions of labor. In the current context, these narratives are being challenged and redefined as economic liberalization and on-going geopolitical insecurities have led to new negotiations over family values, gender roles, and morality from the scale of the nation-state to the individual. Following a feminist framework that highlights the intimate and the global, I investigate the processes of neoliberalization and dispossession by looking at the intimate scale of the home and women’s bodies, the financialization of social reproduction, and the role of affect and attachment for enduring. I first discursively example the public debate around two pieces of legislation—a gender rights law and a domestic violence prevention law. I show how gender is weaponized by conservative groups and women’s daily lives are entangled in various geopolitical and economic contexts leading to both a loss of intuition and economic insecurity for wome. Second, I examine economic insecurities and the transformation of economic practices among rural households, particularly the financialization of social reproduction. I ask how long the gendered and generational labor that supports social reproduction can be sustainable under conditions of dispossession. I conclude that not only are the existing practices of social reproduction being depleted by financialization, creating significant forms of depletion across generations, but that practices of resilience to crisis are, in fact, perpetuating the general trajectory of developments that necessitated the use of loans and credit in the first place. Finally, I consider how on-going crisis has led to a sense of disillusionment and displacement for young women, who feel a dizzying disconnection from older generations’ strategies of endurance. Young women are both drawn to and alienated from opposing normative expectations for the good life—a traditional or nationalist ideology that expects women to be good mothers and domestic caretakers and a “modern” set of expectations that encourages women to pursue their individual interests. Attention to the affective transformations suggests that processes of dispossession produced by neoliberalization include, but also extend beyond, material forms. Throughout, specific attention to generational differences and intergenerational relations give complexity to analyses of the intimate and the global because they reveal shifts in the practices of endurance. More broadly, this dissertation demonstrates the ways that practices of social reproduction, attachment, affect, and the domestic are inseparable from the geopolitical and the economy as the commodification (or geopoliticization) of these areas of life (de)values them in ways that are conducive to capitalist accumulation.

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