Prosperous Pollutants: Bargaining with Risks and Forging Hopes in an Industrial Town in Serbia
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The article explores the ‘work of hope’ in relation to air pollution and health hazards in Bor, a polluted copper-processing town in Eastern Serbia. The aim of this paper is to show the mutual imbrication of hope and risk by delineating how hope for a stable personal and communal future was anchored in the polluting company and the toxic substances it produced, which, in various ways, provided a sense of possibility and opportunity. I show how the work of hope demanded simultaneous weighing up, manoeuvring, accepting, and bargaining with risks that became an integral part of the work of hope in a social setting where the double bind of growth versus sustainability was deeply embedded. I argue that together, hope and risk were both framing devices for thinking about and living towards futures in a context of reindustrialisation and recent sudden economic flourishing in this post-socialist town.