Promotionsprogramm "Transformationsprozesse in Europäischen Gesellschaften"

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Elisabeth Luggauer, M.A.


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Dissertation Project

This PhD project investigates relations between humans and stray dogs (montenegr.: psi lutalice) in Podgorica (Montenegro). Therefore it links Urban Anthropology in a southeast European postsocialist city with the interdisciplinary research area of Human-Animal Studies. The research field of this PhD project are the various relations between human inhabitants and (stray) dog-inhabitants in the urban space Podgorica. The attribute of ‘straying’ (lutalice) is a fluid, sometimes temporary, category for a dog. The status of ‘lutalice’ refers to a loss of control and a negation of an ideal condition, and is creating a diffuse group of city inhabitants. Between the humans and the ownerless stray dogs as interfering actors can be found a lot of closer relations between humans and owned dogs with various spaces of dependence and control existing between them. Hence the urban space of Podgorica is in this research perceived as a multi-dimensional sphere, constructed by relations between human-inhabitants and dog-inhabitants, and these relations are conceptualized as interactive practices of taking and arranging spaces.
The aims of this research are:
(1.) to point out how the urban space of Podgorica is designed as living space through these interspecies relations.
(2.) How its urban culture is constructed by the relations between human actors and stray dog-actors
And (3.) To use current transformations of the human-dog relationships as a base for analysis of processes of Europeanization in Podgorica’s urban culture.

The research for this PhD project is oriented after the principles of George Marcus’ multi-sited ethnography. Hence the researcher follows the people (and also the dogs), the thing, the metaphor, the plot, biography and conflict. The primary method is participant observation, with situative conversations, mainly conducted in a long term stay in Podgorica from February to September 2016. Besides these constant participant observation, qualitative interviews are conducted. Additionally to the common methodological habit of recording conversations with (human) interviewees, photographic and audio-visual documentations are made.
A constant collection and discourse analytical preparation of regional newspapers, political campaigns, and law reports frames the ethnographical approach. In a research field diary incidents, observations, conversations and reflective thoughts are collected.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Katharina Eisch-Angus