Anthropology | PEOPLES AND CULTURES OF RUSSIA AND EAST EUROPE
E400 | 0423 | Phillips


Societies in Russia and East Europe are in a state of upheaval and
flux characterized as the "postsocialist transition."  The fall of the
Soviet regime has led to contradictory effects, including great promise
and turmoil, prosperity and poverty, struggles of democracy building, and
the return/rise of nationalist and xenophobic movements.  The transition
has led to social collapse and war in some regions, and increased
stability in others.  In this course, we will explore these contradictory
effects of socialism's "fall" as we examine new ethnographies of
postsocialism.  We will connect our inquiries to broad intellectual
questions in anthropology and related disciplines, including
globalization; violence, terror, and suffering; commodification, power,
and identity; nation building and ethnicity; the politics of citizenship;
political and moral corruption; religious identity and conflict; and
gender inequalities.  Geographically, we will focus on the Newly
Independent States (NIS) of the Former Soviet Union, especially the
Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Latvia.  Within Russia, we will consider
both the "center" (i.e. Moscow) and the "peripheries" (the Russian Far
East).

The course emphasizes a "from-below" view of postsocialism by
grounding the seemingly natural processes associated with the
transition-nation building, commodification, democratization,
Westernization, globalization-in people's everyday lives. Therefore,
methodologically, the emphasis will be on ethnographic approaches.  We
will also take up considerations of reflexivity in fieldwork, and pay
close attention to the relevance of the researcher's own background and
academic position for the scholarly claims made.

The course begins with a brief, critical review of theories of
"actually existing socialism" and possible explanations for socialism's
"fall."  This focus will provide context for the course, and will
introduce students to "classic" research on socialism.

The course then moves to new ethnographic works on a variety of
topics and geographical areas.  Our readings of these ethnographies will
be complemented by other articles and book chapters that both add to and
challenge the analyses presented in the ethnographies.  The following
books will be required reading:

Nancy Ries.  1998.  Russian Talk: Culture and Conversation during
Perestroika.

Anna M. Kerttula  2000.  Antler on the Sea: The Yup'ik and Chukchi of the
Russian Far East.

Sascha Goluboff.  2002.  Jewish Russians: Upheavals in a Moscow Synagogue.

Catherine Wanner.  1998.  Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in
Post-Soviet Ukraine.

Vieda Skultans.  1998.  The Testimony of Lives: Narrative and Memory in
Post-Soviet Latvia.

A coursepack for the course will also be required.