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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laada M. Bilaniuk
SISRE 425
Seattle Campus

Anthropology of the Post-Soviet States

Analysis of Soviet and post-Soviet culture and identity. Historical transformations in Soviet approaches to ethnicity and nationality; contemporary processes of nationbuilding and interethnic conflict. Examination of culture through the intersection of social ritual, government policies, language, economic practices, and daily life. Regional focus will vary. Offered: jointly with ANTH 425.

Class description

Students will learn anthropological perspectives on Soviet and post-Soviet life from readings of studies based on ethnographic fieldwork. We will explore what “Sovietness” was, how it was experienced in everyday life, and the particularities of post-Sovietness in comparative cross-cultural perspective. We will examine how politics impinged on people's sense of culture, language, and identity; the role of economics in interpersonal relations and social power; how history has been variously reinterpreted and used to define and justify the present. We will examine how people experience and participate in the construction of social divisions such as class, gender, language, and ethnicity, and how these have been transformed with the formation and demise of the Soviet system.

Student learning goals

Understand anthropological research methods and theories and how they relate to other research in the social sciences, particularly in the field of Soviet/post-Soviet studies.

Understand what “Sovietness” was, how it was experienced by people in everyday life, and how it related to social ideologies.

Understand the dynamics of cultural politics in different post-Soviet countries.

Know more about the cultural and linguistic diversity of the post-Soviet area.

General method of instruction

The course will be conducted in seminar format, centered mainly on discussion of readings, with occasional lectures and films.

Recommended preparation

Familiarity with sociocultural anthropology and with the post-Soviet area is desirable but not required.

Class assignments and grading

Readings, participation in class discussions of readings, acting as discussion facilitator for one class, occasional quizzes on readings, one final paper.

Participation (30%), discussion facilitation (10%) , quizzes (20%), final paper (40%)


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Laada M. Bilaniuk
Date: 01/19/2007