The Frontier of Anthropological Research: The Anthropology of Post-Socialist Societies and Beyond


Studienivå (studiesyklus)

Bachelor level



Mål og innhald

This course gives a comprehensive introduction to a specific area of contemporary anthropological investigation. Current research trends and recent theoretical developments are explored through critical discussions with emphasis on anthropology's evolving engagement with the selected field. The course offers a unique opportunity to be acquainted with diverse aspects - methodological, epistemological and theoretical - of the research process, aspects that lie at the very basis of anthropological analysis and practice, and of ethnographic production.

Course theme

The Soviet Union was the world largest country throughout the 20th century. The Soviet empire stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean embracing hundreds of ethnic groups living on its territory. Together with other Communist bloc countries, Soviet state socialism shaped and framed the lives of millions of people throughout almost a whole century. Today, nearly three decades after the collapse of the communist regimes, former member countries across Europe and Central Asia are still perceived and referred in scholarly work as post-socialist and/or post-Soviet. After almost three decades of a willed transition towards political and economic liberalism, several of these states are now turning away from political liberalism. Processes accompanying these transitions have shaped the thematic focus of the anthropology of post-Socialist societies.

Throughout the course SANT280-14, the term post-socialist will be problematized: Is it still a relevant designator over 25 years after the collapse of the communist states in Europa and Central Asia? What are the commonalities and differences among the countries that where part of the Communist block and how did these shape their diverse trajectories after their political and economic collapse? And how to make sense of the recent turn towards authoritarianism and right- wing populism in some of these countries? How does the anthropological perspective which focuses on people¿s lived experiences, help us understand the radical changes that took place and what has followed? How do people make sense of their recent past and how does this shape the present and the future?

Drawing on ethnography from post-Soviet countries and the anthropological analysis of ruptures, structural transitions and legacies, we explore topics such as memories and the past in the present; ethnic diversity, co-existence and conflicts; nationalism and the rise of the nation state; religious revivals and the secular. Through ethnographies of disconnections and (re)connections, disappearing and (re)appearing borders, we explore changing social relations, sociality and cultural formations, and how they reflect ethnicity, gender, generation (age) and class in a before, after and `beyond after¿ perspective.

Course convener: Professor Tone Bringa

This course is offered in cooperation with the Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology at the Tbilisi State University in Georgia.


A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


  • provide an overview of the field of study addressed in the course, with particular reference to its history and theoretical and methodological debates in social anthropology


  • explain the current state-of-art of research in the field of study addressed in the course
  • explain the various methodological and theoretical considerations that must be taken in order to further develop the field of study

General competence

  • apply key concepts and perspectives from the course and its field of study independently, in the understanding and analysis of local and global processes
  • apply an understanding of the correlation and difference between empirical data, theory and analysis in text production

Krav til forkunnskapar

No previous course in Social Anthropology is required.

Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

Lectures of 45x2 minutes will be given twice weekly over a period of three weeks.

Obligatorisk undervisningsaktivitet

Minimum 75 % attendance to lectures is compulsory.

Approved compulsory requirements are only valid for the semester they are approved.

Updated: There will be no compulsory attendance spring 2021.


5 days take home exam. Words: 2000-3000


Grading A-F


Assessment in teaching semester.


All courses are regularly evaluated according to UiB´s quality assurance system.


E-post: Studieveileder@sosantr.uib.no 

Phone: +47 55 58 92 50


  • Vurderingsordning: Heimeeksamen

    Oppgave utleveres
    03.05.2021, 09:00
    07.05.2021, 14:00
    Digital eksamen