Anthropology the Swiss way
From 3rd to 18th October 2015, TSU anthropology students Anton Sadyrin and Seil Djanyzakova underwent research training at the University of Zurich (Switzerland), Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, supervised by Professor Dr. Peter Finke, Head of Department, one of the lead research fellows at the Centre for Anthropological Studies on Central Asia (CASCA) and our recent guest, whose research interests include post-socialist societies, more specifically, in Central Asia. The students’ research visit was associated with a conference themed ‘Central Asia in the 21st century: historical trajectories, contemporary challenges and everyday encounters’, organized by the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies in cooperation with CASCA, University of Konstanz (Germany) and European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS) and held in Zurich from October 8th to October 11th.
Zurich is a city in the northeast of Switzerland, the capital of the German-speaking canton of Zurich and the administrative centre of the eponymous district. It is the largest financial centre of Switzerland and is one of the so called global cities. In 2011, Zurich was ranked the world’s second city for the quality of life, whilst in 2012 it was named the world’s most expensive city.
The University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich constitute a large research centre. Over 26,000 students are currently studying at the university. Its history dates back to the year 1525 which makes it one of the oldest universities in Switzerland. However, the university officially got its present form and name only in 1833. At different times, different names were associated with the university, namely those of Albert Einstein, Erwin Schroedinger, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Walter Rudolf Hess and of many other outstanding scientists.
The student training’s main objective was to work at the library of the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies where a lot of research publications and works on Central Asia are available. It is this region that falls within research interests of the anthropology students who undertook the trip and who are also assistants at the Laboratory for Social and Anthropological Research. Library materials are available here in English, German and Russian as well as in Central Asian languages.
Apart from working in the library, the Tomsk students attended lectures and seminars along with students of the University of Zurich. An important part of their stay was the discussion of and involvement in organizing a joint project (of Zurich, Ust’-Kamenogorsk and Tomsk) which is to result in an anthropological summer school to be held in Kazakhstan in the summer of 2016, with support of Volkswagen Foundation.
During their stay, the students could also familiarize themselves with activities of the Centre for Anthropological Studies on Central Asia (CASCA). The Centre was founded in 2012 by the Department of Integration and Conflicts of Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle, Germany) jointly with the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Zurich. The establishment of the Centre strengthened the long-term cooperation between the two research institutions which is based on numerous studies and research carried out by them on Central Asia.
The CASCA aims to support empirical research on the region from an anthropological perspective. Its main objective is to strengthen social anthropology in Central Asia as an independent research discipline. The CASCA is a part of the world’s research network of scholars and academic institutions. In addition to its current research tasks, the CASCA develops educational programmes at bachelor, master and PhD levels and organizes international summer schools and regular courses directly related to Central Asian studies.
4th year student, LSAR assistant