Whatever you do when you’re homeless, you feel bored (plictisit),” Florin,
an unemployed low- skilled laborer (muncitor necalificat) in his early thir-
ties, explained to me on an autumn morning.1 Florin lived in a squatter
camp with his wife near Stefan’s Place, a popular nongovernmental orga-
nization in Bucharest, Romania, where homeless men and women went
to meet with one another, as well as to access a social worker or doctor, or
to take a shower. “Especially whenever you think about tomorrow,” Florin
continued, “what to do, what to eat, where to go, and where to work. Winter
is around the corner, and I think, ‘Where will I live?’ I’m outdoors, the wind
blows hard, and the snow is coming. And this is the life that you have to
think about, because no one is going to come look after you and make sure
you’re all right.” Florin paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. His
broad shoulders rolled forward, and his face drooped. “And then I get this
feeling of boredom from having to tighten my belt as far as I can manage,
until the knife scrapes against the bone. You can’t do anything worthwhile
if you don’t have a job and if you don’t have money.” Florin spent the re-
mainder of his morning pacing up and down the main road in an effort to
busy himself.
· · ·
This is an ethnography about being cast aside to the margins of
Europe amid a prolonged global economic crisis. Set in postcommunist
Bucharest, Romania, this book explores the internally felt space where
the promises and possibilities of European-style consumer capitalism cut
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