Not available in 2013/14
AN462      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 MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development (Management), MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Religion in the Contemporary World and MSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course discusses recent anthropological literature on the former Soviet Union, focusing on issues such as religion, nationalism, and everyday economics. It 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 seminars 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. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Grant, Bruce. 1995. In the Soviet House of Culture: A century of Perestroika's. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Humphrey, Caroline. 2002. The Unmaking of Soviet Life: Everyday Economies after Socialism. Humphrey, Caroline. 1998. Marx Went Away, but Karl Stayed Behind. Updated version of Karl Marx Collective: Economy, Society, and Religion in a Siberian Collective Farm. The University of Michigan Press. Nazpary, Joma. 2001. Post-Soviet Chaos: Violence and dispossession in Kazakhstan. Pluto Press. Pelkmans, Mathijs. 2006. Defending the Border: Identity, Religion, and Modernity in the Republic of Georgia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Ries, Nancy. 1997. Russian Talk: Culture and Conversation during Perestroika. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Tishkov, Valery. 2004. Chechnya: Life in a War-torn society. Berkeley: University of California Press. Vitebsky, Piers. 2005. The reindeer People: Living with animals and spirits in Siberia. HarperCollins. Wanner, Catherine. 2007. Communities of the converted: Ukrainians and global evangelism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information