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Postsocialist Europe

Postsocialist Europe: Anthropological Perspectives from Home

László Kürti
Peter Skalník
Series: EASA Series
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Postsocialist Europe
    Book Description:

    Now that nearly twenty years have passed since the collapse of the Soviet bloc there is a need to understand what has taken place since that historic date and where we are at the moment. Bringing together authors with different historical, cultural, regional and theoretical backgrounds, this volume engages in debates that address new questions arising from recent developments, such as whether there is a need to reject or uphold the notion of post-socialism as both a necessary and valid concept ignoring changes and differences across both time and space. The authors' firsthand ethnographies from their own countries belie such a simplistic notion, revealing, as they do, the cultural, social, and historical diversity of countries of Central and Southeastern Europe.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-946-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    László Kürti and Peter Skalník
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction: Postsocialist Europe and the Anthropological Perspective from Home
    (pp. 1-28)
    László Kürti and Peter Skalník

    Now that twenty years have passed since the collapse of the Eastern bloc of “socialist” states there is a need to understand and theorize what took place since that historic date and where we are at the moment. The question of whether a democratic Eastern Europe does or does not exist because of the collapse of the Soviet bloc cannot be discarded. It is a complex issue for at least two reasons. Firstly, it must be ascertained how the varied legacies of state socialism differ from country to country. Second, for the core members of the EU, the traditional West,...

  6. Chapter 2 Gender and Governance in Rural Communities of Postsocialist Slovakia
    (pp. 29-50)
    Alexandra Bitušíková and Katarína Koštialová

    Postsocialist transformations in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the processes of European enlargement and integration have been accompanied by increasing involvement of women in decision making at all levels. During socialism, the emancipation of women in Slovakia was proudly proclaimed as one of the victories of the regime. Women’s political and economic participation was high, but only because it was manipulated and controlled by the Communist Party. Quotas of thirty per cent for participation and representation of women in all political institutions from local to national levels were introduced, and celebrated by the dominant ideology as real...

  7. Chapter 3 Property Relations, Class, and Labour in Rural Poland
    (pp. 51-75)
    Michat Buchowski

    Property, privatization and reprivatization have undoubtedly become one of the most debated topics in the Central European postsocialist context. For politicians, changing property relations have been one of the landmarks of shifting the political-economic system from an authoritarian to democratic one, and bringing back the ‘proper’ ownership order has turned out to be the litmus test for those who claimed their entry into the Western sphere of politics. For neoliberals, private ownership has functioned as a cornerstone of the only feasible and efficient socio-economic system. For the local and international audience, the process of changing property relations has served as...

  8. Chapter 4 Migs and Cadres on the Move: Thoughts on the Mimetic Dimensions of Postsocialism
    (pp. 76-94)
    Hana Červinková

    In this chapter, I approach ‘post-socialist transition’ from the perspective of identity change, which that I see as the displacement of one particular form of mimetic faculty in favour of another. I focus on the institution of the Czech Air Force and its officers whose professional identity has been seriously challenged by the circumstances of large sociopolitical and institutional changes that accompany the ‘transition’ from socialism to democracy. The mimetic faculty which is at the basis of the professional identity of the Czech Air Force officers whom I interviewed is firmly tied to Soviet technology and Soviet-type military discipline. Following...

  9. Chapter 5 Diasporas Coming Home: Identity and Uncertainty of Transnational Returnees in Postcommunist Lithuania
    (pp. 95-117)
    Vytis Čiubrinskas

    In the contemporary world of much increased interchange betweenrootsandroutes,as James Clifford puts it (Clifford 1997), patterns of migration do produce multiple diasporic identities of people who are ‘in’ but not entirely (or only) ‘of ’ the place they are in (Rushdie 1998). It is in particular visible in the West, where postcolonial and postcommunist immigrants are going through the challenges of acculturation. But it increasingly also happens in the East, where the same postcolonial and postcommunist migrantproducing societies ofuncertainty and freedomare now experiencing the repatriation of their former expatriates and transnational migrants.

    Lithuania is a...

  10. Chapter 6 A Rainbow Flag against the Krakow Dragon: Polish Responses to the Gay and Lesbian Movement
    (pp. 118-150)
    Grażyna Kubica

    On 1 May 2004 Poland entered the European Union.¹ In Krakow, the last day of April was marked by a festive celebration: at midnight thousands of Krakovians carrying EU flags gathered at the Main Marketplace (the biggest square in Europe) to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony splendidly performed by the local philharmonic orchestra and choir. The whole city appeared to be united in common joy (maybe because the ‘eurosceptics’ stayed at home). At the same time preparations for another spectacle were in full swing. It was intended for a limited audience and, as some believed, concerned marginal problems. But it...

  11. Chapter 7 Olivia’s Story: Capitalism and Rabbit Farming in Hungary
    (pp. 151-187)
    László Kürti

    Not all aspects of capitalism are pleasant. Not every capitalist investment produces positive results, and not all foreign plants are managed productively. Studies on capitalist penetration in Latin America, Asia and Africa suggest that native agricultural systems and labour relations are turned upside down and local economies rapidly collapse as foreign investments bring negative results to families struggling to make ends meet. European areas recently entering into the vortex of full-scale capitalist production display similar results: indeed, some global firms exploit local workers by relocating to areas of cheap labour, while others leave native producers in debt, leading analysts to...

  12. Chapter 8 Punk Anthropology: From a Study of a Local Slovene Alternative Rock Scene towards Partisan Scholarship
    (pp. 188-205)
    Rajko Muršič

    There are some remarkable similarities in the production, reproduction and star-system between popular culture, especially popular music, and academia. If the criteria of success in popular music are record sales, attendance at concerts and the broadcasting and mentioning of hits in the media and daily life, the criteria of success in academia are monograph sales, attendance at lectures and quotations from papers. When we use the famous Web of Science (SSCI or A&HCI), we may see the similarities between music charts and lists of quotations or between inventories of recordings and bibliographies. Moreover, the vast majority of academic and popular...

  13. Chapter 9 Being Locked Out and Locked In: The Culture of Homelessness in Hungary
    (pp. 206-226)
    Terézia Nagy

    The intention of this chapter is to show how the ‘hidden poverty’ of state socialism continues to manifest itself in the postsocialist present while the phenomenon of ‘new poverty’ is being simultaneously created. Part of this new poverty is homelessness, a topic which did not officially exist during the socialist period and was considered taboo. Social scientists, however, began studying poverty during the mid to late 1980s, years that have often been referred to as ‘soft communism’ (Bokor 1987; Ferge 1982; Gönczöl 1982, 1991; Kemény 1979; Eberstadt 1988; Höjdestrand 2003).

    As we will see, the reality of growing poverty became...

  14. Chapter 10 Political Anthropology of the Postcommunist Czech Republic: Local–National and Rural–Urban Scenes
    (pp. 227-251)
    Peter Skalník

    In the Czech Republic, post-1989 social change has been strongly informed by politics on all levels. The introduction of democracy has been accompanied by serious contradictions which make many people question the meaning of the transformation from communism to democracy and a market economy. The egalitarian model prevailing in the past is being challenged, and the aggrandizement of managers and politicians leads to the perception of a deep cleavage between citizens and the political elite. Research¹ on the postcommunist² nature of national and local political culture, and on the content of rural political life, shows that whereas local politics is...

  15. Chapter 11 Comparative Cultural Aspects of Work in Multinational Enterprises
    (pp. 252-269)
    Gabriel-Ionut Stoiciu

    The political, economic, geographical and spiritual opening up that was part of the post-1989 changes in Central and Eastern Europe was seen as a logical attitude after the decline of Soviet control over the entire region. The new ‘free citizens’ felt that they could finally choose countries to visit, information to believe and learn and – maybe the most important – people to represent them. Besides social and political changes, economic restructuring had the most dramatic impact on these new democracies. The rules of competition and profit, the altering of pre-1989 internal and external commercial agreements, as well as pressure from the...

  16. Chapter 12 Immigrants from Ukraine in the Czech Republic: Foreigners in the Border Zone
    (pp. 270-294)
    Zdeněk Uherek

    In this chapter I deal with several types of emigration from Ukraine to the Czech Republic¹ that took place from the early 1990s to the early twenty-first century. The aim of this study is to show some of the specifics, including causes and effects, of postcommunist migration. I take note of the motivations of migrants, their aspirations, how they invest the wealth they have gained, what their attitudes are to the population of the target country and, conversely, how the majority population of the target country views migrant groups. The migrations commented on here are part of migrational movements from...

  17. Chapter 13 Afterword – Under the Aegis of Anthropology: Blazing New Trails
    (pp. 295-304)
    Christian Giordano

    This book represents the noteworthy and innovative contribution of a small yet authoritative group of scholars in the social and cultural sciences, and sends an important message to the anthropological community. Each article reveals that something new is actually surfacing in Eastern Europe, and gives a clear indication that the discipline there is evolving or may have already undergone an irrevocable modification. The authors, all from Eastern Europe and currently professionally involved in this area of the continent (though for study or research reasons they have stayed in the West for longer or shorter periods), share a common project: each...

  18. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 305-310)
  19. Name Index
    (pp. 311-317)
  20. Subject Index
    (pp. 318-326)