Course date

17 July - 28 July, 2000
Application deadline
15 February, 2000
Course Director(s): 

Peter Niedermuller

Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

Violetta Zentai

Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Svetlana Boym

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, Boston, United States of America

Michal Buchowski

Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

Chris Hann

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany

Don Kalb

Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Julian Konstantinov

New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria

Martha Lampland

University of California, San Diego, United States of America

Ina Merkel

Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Frances Pine

Cambridge University, United Kingdom

Michael Stewart

University College London, UK / Open City Docs Festival in London, UK/ Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Miklos Voros

University of Pecs, Hungary
Capitalism has undergone major restructuring processes over the last two decades in the late modern societies. Distinctive processes of flexible accumulation, transnational exchange of goods, consumption-driven reproduction, division of labour based on information and high technology, the growth of transnational financial markets are captured by the concepts of post-fordist, postmodern, disorganised or global capitalism. The rise of new structures of economy is intertwined with the reconfiguration of identity patterns, social interactions and institutions, as well as assumptions, judgements, ideals, and expectations pertinent to societies in the western world. Parallel to these changes, societies in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the former Soviet Union have disengaged themselves from state-socialist path of modernisation and entered the road of capitalist transformation. This transformation takes a variety of forms in which the profound concepts of good society are elaborated and measured against western models and practices. 
Our inquiry proposes that the actual practices, institutions and social debates in contemporary capitalism are informed and shaped by different understandings of fairness in market transactions, just distribution of resources, diverging concepts of social good, ties and obligations, and thus shape culture in anthropological sense. As distinctive social localities participate in contemporary capitalist production and high capitalism itself embodies a plurality of ideas and experiences, it is legitimate to talk about cultures of capitalism. Thus, our course will investigate how contemporary cultures of capitalism are formed in the intricate exchange of meanings and practices in historically conditioned localities of the developed western world and post-socialist transformations in Europe and Asia.
The course is built on the underlying assumption that western societies of high capitalism and societies of post-socialist transformation are linked by various historical conjunctions, transnational and subnational movement of people, and crossing traditions of thought and culture. Therefore, the transformation of post-socialist countries should be investigated from various perspectives that are not constrained narrowly to the region. Accordingly, experiences and concerns of late modernity (also known as post-, second, post-welfare modernity), which cut across different socio-political and national divisions within and outside Europe and Asia, will also inform the course inquiry.
The composition of the resource team is to intensify reflexive crosscurrents among different schools of thought within the discipline, such as British social anthropology, American cultural anthropology, German and various East European currents of European ethnology. The assigned readings will ensure that the anthropological knowledge is enriched by recent achievements in cultural studies, urban studies, sociology, and political economy. Discussions will evaluate scholarly investigations and experiences that resource persons as well as participants have developed in their fields of research. Resource persons are prepared to be critically challenged by theoretical perspectives and field expertise of participants coming from transitional societies of the region, including the ones not yet or not directly involved in the process of European unification.