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300198 Ethnographies of Post/Late Socialist Societies (S) (SoSe 2019)

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“What was socialism, and what comes next?”
-Katherine Verdery
Anthropologist

Since the end of the Cold War, socialism as a political system is said to have collapsed, retreating into irrelevance and insignificance. Yet, socialism is also a cover term for many past and present forms of polity and governance, including contemporary practices and repercussions in market economies. Depending on their longue-durée histories and travels in the global world, political, economic and socio-cultural manifestations of the core ideas of socialism developed into a broad spectrum of realities. Even in countries that have abandoned socialism for other systems for decades, some of these ideas still prevail today, coexisting with capitalist and local historical-cultural forms and mechanisms.
This seminar will explore the dynamics of change and continuity in a diverse range of post/late socialist contexts in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, using largely anthropological literature. The themes to be covered may include the following: actually existing socialist practices and structures of feelings, processes of privatization, property and work regimes, past and present transregional linkages, memory, identity, transformations in family, kinship and gender as well as emerging class relations. Our emphasis will be on ethnographic analyses that are concerned with how broader processes play out in local social and political lives, people’s experiences with and negotiations of social changes, and the implications of socialist ideas for everyday life under post/late socialism.
This is a reading intensive seminar. There are no prerequisites for registration but a good dose of curiosity and a readiness to participate in the discussions. To facilitate class discussions, you are required to read the key texts before the seminar and are encouraged to read as much of the additional readings as possible. Please note that regular attendance is absolutely necessary for the sake of your own learning and that of your classmates.

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