• The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order

    Pages: 280
    Illustrations: 33 photographs
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
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  • Preface  ix
    Acknowledgments  xvii
    Introduction  1
    1. Space-Time Expansion  19
    2. Bleak House  44
    3. The Gray Years  72
    4. Bored to Death  96
    5. Bored Stiff  122
    6. Defeat Boredom!  147
    Conclusion  175
    Notes  185
    Bibliography  229
    Index  245
  • “An excellent and thorough exploration of the mundane emotion of boredom. This ethnography is certainly necessary reading for anyone working in the area of homelessness, especially, but also those interested in the impacts of global capitalism more broadly.”


  • “An excellent and thorough exploration of the mundane emotion of boredom. This ethnography is certainly necessary reading for anyone working in the area of homelessness, especially, but also those interested in the impacts of global capitalism more broadly.”

  • "Bruce O'Neill's empirically rich, analytically sophisticated, and sumptuously written ethnography transports the reader into the lives of Bucharest's homeless population, clearly articulating their relentless sense of boredom and the daily tedium of being cast aside. Of great interest to scholars of postsocialism and critics of neoliberalism, The Space of Boredom should be required reading for all the World Bank and IMF staff in Romania as well as the market fundamentalists celebrating globalization." — Kristen Ghodsee, author of, The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe

    "Bruce O'Neill's treatment of a kind of social deprivation that is unfamiliar to most readers renders the painful economic depression of much of Eastern Europe with a remarkable human voice. Revealing disarming insights as to how boredom finds its way into the corners of disenfranchised lives, The Space of Boredom produces some of the best of what anthropology has to offer." — Bruce Grant, author of, The Captive and the Gift: Cultural Histories of Sovereignty in Russia and the Caucasus

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  • Description

    In The Space of Boredom Bruce O'Neill explores how people cast aside by globalism deal with an intractable symptom of downward mobility: an unshakeable and immense boredom. Focusing on Bucharest, Romania, where the 2008 financial crisis compounded the failures of the postsocialist state to deliver on the promises of liberalism, O'Neill shows how the city's homeless are unable to fully participate in a society that is increasingly organized around practices of consumption. Without a job to work, a home to make, or money to spend, the homeless—who include pensioners abandoned by their families and the state—struggle daily with the slow deterioration of their lives. O'Neill moves between homeless shelters and squatter camps, black labor markets and transit stations, detailing the lives of men and women who manage boredom by seeking stimulation, from conversation and coffee to sex in public restrooms or going to the mall or IKEA. Showing how boredom correlates with the downward mobility of Bucharest's homeless, O'Neill theorizes boredom as an enduring affect of globalization in order to provide a foundation from which to rethink the politics of alienation and displacement.

    About The Author(s)

    Bruce O'Neill is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Saint Louis University.
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