Seminars held by Christian Buchner on anthropological theory
Since February 2014, Christian Buchner has started holding seminars for anthropology students at the TSU Department of History, along with lecture courses of Evgeniy A. Vasilyev and Nikolay Ssorin-Chaikov. Christian, having studied anthropology in Germany, moderates the classes attending which students can deepen their knowledge and acquire new one through reading and discussing various texts. What is special about this format is that students of different cycles of education and dealing with a wide range of contemporary research issues come together to interact and contribute to the discussion based on their own research. The seminar meetings are held weekly, with each class dedicated to one particular author whose works were essential for the development of anthropology in different periods of history. The course of the seminar is like this: students get familiar with author’s biography and then focus on a certain source material, analyzing, synthesizing, and criticizing it. Besides, students try to look at current processes through the prism of those approaches studied.
So far, the following works have been considered during the seminars: ‘Argonauts of the Western Pacific’ by B. Malinowski, ‘The aims of anthropological research’ by F. Boas, ‘Structural anthropology’ by C. Levi-Strauss, ‘The childhood of mankind’ by L. Frobenius, ‘The Nuer’ by E.E. Evans-Pritchard (a book which ‘paved the way’ for political anthropology) , and ‘Symbol and ritual’ by V. Turner. Some works were read by the participants in English. Thus, students became familiar with those classic anthropological texts by authors representing British functionalism, the Boas culture history school, French structuralism, diffusion, structural functionalism, and symbolic anthropology.
The classes ended with a discussion of contemporary approaches in anthropology – interpretive anthropology of Clifford Geertz and postmodernist critical attitudes toward the concept of ‘the field’ presented in the article by Akhil Gupta and James Ferguson “‘The field’ as site, method and location in anthropology”. For the summer holidays, the seminars have been temporarily suspended but are thought to resume in the next academic year.