Not available in 2013/14
AN246      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Post-Soviet Eurasia

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mathijs Pelkmans OLD6.13


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BA in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Undergraduates taking this course should have completed an introductory course in social anthropology unless granted exemption by the course teacher.

Course content

This course discusses recent anthropological literature on the former Soviet Union, focusing on issues such as religion, nationalism and everyday economics. This course will use an ethnographic lens to look at some of the most salient processes occurring in the former Soviet world. We will start by looking at what "really existing socialism" meant for people's everyday existence during the Soviet period, and how Soviet politics influenced popular ideas of culture and identity. Next, we will examine the varying ways in which inhabitants of the region reconfigured political, economic, and ideological landscapes following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Drawing from ethnographies of Siberia, central Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, the course will provide an overview of debates on religious renewal, nationalism, conflict, economic life, and lifestyle. The course argues that this relatively new field of anthropological research offers fresh and inspiring perspectives on long-standing anthropological debates.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

Anthropology students taking this course will have an opportunity to submit a tutorial essay for this course to their personal tutors. For non-Anthropology students taking this course, a formative essay may be submitted to the course teacher.

Indicative reading

Derluguian, Giorgi. 2005. Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the
Caucasus: A world-system biography; Grant, Bruce. 1995. In the Soviet
House of Culture: A century of Perestroika's; Humphrey, Caroline. 2002.
The Unmaking of Soviet Life: Everyday Economies after Socialism; Humphrey,
Caroline. 1998. Marx Went Away, but Karl Stayed Behind; Nazpary, Joma.
2001. Post-Soviet Chaos: Violence and dispossession in Kazakhstan;
Pelkmans, Mathijs: Defending the Border: Identity, Religion, and Modernity in
the Republic of Georgia; Pelkmans, Mathijs (ed.) Conversion after
Socialism: Disruptions, Modernisms and Technologies of Faith in the Former
Soviet Union; Tishkov, Valery. 2004. Chechnya: Life in a War-torn society;
Vitebsky, Piers. 2005. The reindeer People: Living with animals and spirits
in Siberia; Wanner, Catherine. 2007. Communities of the converted:
Ukrainians and global evangelism.


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (30%, 2500 words) in the LT.

The assessed essay must be between 2,000 – 2,500 words in length.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information