Anthropological issues through the eyes of LSAR guest lecturers
The end of 2016 turned out to be pretty much filled with LSAR educational events. In the months of November and December, LSAR students of anthropology and all interested had a chance to attend lectures and seminars given by several guest Russian scholars.
The first of them was Andrian Yu. Okhotnikov, Research Fellow at Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography (Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences at Novosibirsk) and specialist in sociocultural adaptation of forced migrants, the history of everyday life, and discourse analysis. Dr. Okhotnikov gave a general picture of Russian and world ethnology and its disciplinary and methodological boundaries. In his course, he put the main emphasis on explaining the concept of ‘narrative’ and on how to deal with oral sources, namely interviews. In the end, Dr. Okhotnikov spoke of modern analytical and descriptive practices in ethnology that are reflected in various ways of conducting narrative analysis as well as of qualitative methods in sociology.
Lectures given by another guest lecturer, Sergey V. Sokolovskiy, Chief Research Fellow at Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Moscow) and international expert on inter-ethnic relations and inter-ethnic conflict prevention, were largely centred on the disciplinary structure of modern anthropology. Sergey Sokolovskiy dedicated a lot of time to discussing students’ research projects. And this discussion in itself revealed a great variety of topics in the field of anthropology. In his comments on students’ work, he elaborated on his own research experience and – and that was equally important – turned to other authors’ approaches to and views of doing anthropology. Sergey Sokolovskiy introduced LSAR students to sub-disciplines in anthropology and explained their specifics in both Russia and other countries. A lot was also said about the different emphases and analytical units in many areas of anthropological knowledge and research.
Alexander G. Seleznyov, Leading Research Fellow at Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography (Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences at Novosibirsk) and specialist in traditional cultures of Siberia and Siberian Islam, gave two introductory lectures on methodology and disciplinary specifics of the anthropology of religion as a field of contemporary scientific inquiry. He paid special attention to the concept of ‘folk (everyday life) Islam’ brightly exemplified by some Siberian religious practices. The analysis of a series of cult Islamic sources – how they formed and are used today – allows us to speak of some syncretic everyday model of Islam that rests on a mixture of Muslim tradition and pre-Islam folk beliefs. Alexander G. Seleznyov showed the essence of this phenomenon through his own field material.
Viktor M. Kirillov’s lectures largely drew on the field of history and historical issues. Professor from Nizhniy Taghil State Socio-Pedagogical Institute and researcher of the history of 20th century political repressions and of the Ural region, he started his course from a general description of methodology-related issues in contemporary humanities research. The focus of his classes was the use of formal methods for analysis of historical sources. The relevance of such methods is indeed indisputable and, from a theoretical perspective, is determined by achievements in hermeneutic and semiotic analysis/interpretation of texts, and from a practical perspective – by the development of technological means for processing vast arrays of data. Just like the previous lecturers, Viktor Kirillov shared his own experience of doing such kind of research and proposed a number of practical tasks in order for the students to get the sense of using formal methods, namely, content-analysis, and to see for themselves the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.
On the whole, all of the lectures proved very informative and thought-provoking. They were very diverse in their content, and yet one could notice a transversal topic behind them, that is, the general issue of trying out fresh research methods and perspectives to produce new knowledge.
A big ‘Thank you’ to all of our guest lecturers! You have been fantastic!