SOC2065 : Memory, identity and nation-building in eastern Europe: The view from anthropology

  • Module Leader(s): Dr Anselma Gallinat
  • Owning School:
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

"The countries of eastern Europe have faced fundamental changes with the fall of socialism. These changes were political and economical but impacted, and continue to impact, in unprecedented ways on people's everyday lives: from changing notions of the person, senses of identity, to experience of time and national belonging. Moreover they have caused a continuous re-shaping of memory for individuals, groups and nations which need to build new senses of nationality in the aftermath of one of the greatest political transformations of this century. Twenty years after the ‘fall of socialism’ these processes are ongoing and allow us insights into the creation of nation-hood, history and memory as wella s insights into what it means to be eastern European and, in reflection, western European, if those categories really do exist.

The module seeks to explore the making of new and old states, nations and cultures after this monumental transformation anthropologically; focusing on aspects of culture, identity, social structure, nation-building and memory. Simultaneously, the module casts a critical eye on developments in the discipline of anthropology that arose from the meeting of academics from East and West.

The module introduces students to the anthropology of eastern Europe. It seeks to provide an overview of the various ways in which these momentous changes have been explored and issues that are currently at the forefront of the academic literature on this region. It further introduces students to the critical reading of ethnographic texts and widens their understanding of the discipline of anthropology.

The main objectives are:

To develop students' knowledge and awareness of current anthropology through an exploration of the literature that focuses on eastern Europe.
To introduce students to the study of rapid social and cultural change.
To explore, through case studies, anthropological concepts of memory, history and nation-building in particular.
To develop students' abilities in reading ethnographic texts critically, to apply knowledge from different sources to inform their reading, and to develop skills to argue logically and analytically, both orally and in writing."

Outline Of Syllabus

"The module begins with introductions to anthropology and ethnography, and some fundamentals on socialism and communism as economical, political and social systems in eastern Europe; a seminar introduces students to the critical reading of ethnographic texts.

The second part of the module explores the question of change and continuity during the transformation in the early 1990s using examples of the ‘fast-track transition- East Germany’, of changing notions of self and society, and consumption and ritual in lectures and in seminars (the notion of time, film discussion). This content will be exemplified with a film showing (Good Bye Lenin). The seminars will continue to focus on critical reading which also functions as preparation for assignment one.

In the third part the module focuses on questions of nation-building and identity in relation to individual remembering and the productive of nationally shared representations of the past. It also casts a critical eye on developments in the discipline of anthropology itself as eastern and western ethnographers meet. Lectures will explore these questions through considering the development of museums and memorials, policy responses to the ‘legacy’ of political oppression, life-stories of ordinary citizens and ‘victims’ of socialist regimes and thus the ‘politics of memory’ that are now unfolding. Two film showings will exemplify some of the issues and seminars will enable in-depth discussion of examples. The final lecture serves as a feedback and Q&A session."

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1114:00114:00Reading around lectures plus preparation and completion of assignment 1 and 2.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading148:0048:006hrs preparation for each seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:00Film showing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery10:000:00Drop-in feedback sessions after each assignment, students come individually for 15-20min.
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is structured into three parts. The first two lectures and first seminar introduce students to the study of postsocialist change in eastern Europe. The following four lectures, three seminars and one film showing seek to explore particular aspects of this change through particular examples from a range of countries. The film exemplifies the taught content, the seminars also exemplify the content but furthermore allow the development and practice of critical reading skills and the practices of the synthesis of learned content with the literature. The third part of the module is the longest and in four lectures, two seminars and two film showings it explores questions of nation-building, memory and identity. The seminars again serve to practice the critical reading of ethnographic texts and critical viewing of films through discussion, they help clarify concepts in discussion, and practice analytical skills with regard to different materials. Student presentations during one seminar in preparation of assignment one will be used to ensure that learning outcomes are met as well as to consolidate learning and skills outcomes.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M602,500 words
Essay2M40Book review 1,500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MPlan for the book review; optional
Essay2MEssay plan; optional.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The literature review asks students to review an ethnography critically and to situate it within the context of a wider literature. This assignment tests and enhances critical and analytical reading skills as well as literacy (synthesis of texts), it also requires students to become acquainted with one case-example and thus one country in depth, enhancing cultural and gobal awareness.

The essay allows for in-depth exploration of themes covered by the module thus testing learning outcomes with regard to both knowledge and skills.
Both assignments are preceded by formative assessment plans which are optional for students.

Reflecting moves to standardise a resit assessment strategy within GPS, the resit will be 100% formal examination, length 3 hours.

Reading Lists

Timetable

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.