The research project “Man in a Changing World. Problems of Identity and Social Adaptation in History and at Present”
Dmitriy A. Funk
leading scientist, head of the project
The research project “Man in a Changing World. Problems of Identity and Social Adaptation in History and at Present”, one of the large-scale Russian projects in the humanities, is being implemented by the faculty of Department of History at National Research Tomsk State University.
The project is not an ordinary one for, at least, three reasons:
First, it has won the biggest all-Russian open grant competition for the state support of research headed by leading scholars at Russian educational institutions of higher vocational education (grant #14.B25.31.0009). The staff of the established under the project Laboratory for Social and Anthropological Research will be working for the years 2013-2015 on the solution of both academic and applied problems of the development of modern society. An important task of the project is to build up strong ties between Tomsk State University and leading world research schools as well as to foster young people’s involvement in education and research in the humanities.
Second, it is not only a research but an educational project as well. It presupposes the development of educational programmes in the subject area of “anthropology and ethnology” in order to educate and train highly-qualified bachelors, masters and researchers alike.
At the very start of the project implementation, there has been a whole set of educational programmes elaborated in the area of interest mentioned above and the better part of the scheduled lecture courses will be delivered at TSU for the first time. One can hardly overestimate the importance of this endeavor. It is well known that Tomsk State University, despite the absence of a specialized chair of ethnography, as it was used to be called a short while ago, since the 1960s has constituted one of the leading centres for educating and training specialists-ethnologists who now successfully work at different academic and university research centres of Western Siberia. The “hunger” for specialists in social anthropology is largely felt across Russia today. So the more absurd the absence of a relevant chair at the university seems to be. We believe that the implementation of the project will contribute to the solution of this problem.
And, third, our project, in the view of the tasks set under it, is interdisciplinary. It is aimed at studying the problems of formation and transformation of identities and social adaptation of a human being in the context of modernization and global social changes. And in spite of that the study is meant to be carried out based mostly on Siberian materials – historically, Siberia, as we all know, is a polyethnic, multiconfessional, urban territory with a complex combination of ways of life, behavioral patterns and socio-economic structures – we seek to conduct our analysis in the context of world processes. In order to successfully deal with the tasks set we will need to involve a wide range of international and Russian experts both in anthropology (understood in a wider sense as a combination of social/cultural anthropology, physical or biological anthropology, archaeology or ethno-archaeology as well as linguistic anthropology including the study of folklore) and in history, sociology and a number of other social and liberal arts disciplines.
We look forward to deepening and developing our long-standing ties with major Russian research and educational centres among which are Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Russian Academy of Sciences) and Department of Ethnology of Saint Petersburg European University as well as some other specialized research teams that have for long and successfully worked in the area of social anthropology. And we will also seek to expand our international contacts. In fact, the project form the very beginning has been set up as an international one: its Supervisory Board includes distinguished ethnologists from the US, Sweden, Germany, Austria, and France.
The specificity of the project “Man in a Changing World. Problems of Identity and Social Adaptation in History and at Present” generally outlined above could be summarized as follows: it is the establishment and operation of a research laboratory under the project, in our case, of a world-class laboratory (and ultimately of a specialized chair) for social anthropology that we pursue. It is meant to become a world class lab both in terms of the expertise involved and the complexity of tasks to be tackled.