FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
RUS | ENG

Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 2016, no. 12

 

FORUM 28: WHAT IS THE ROLE OF ‘REGIONAL STUDIES’ IN CONTEMPORARY ANTHROPOLOGY? — EXPLORING THE CASE OF CENTRAL ASIA

Summary: The fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent development of new nation-states in the post-Soviet space, along with the increasing momentum of social, political, and cultural reorganisation globally, have challenged the field of anthropology and ethnography to restructure how knowledge is acquired and systematised. One of the issues that has come up during the course of these changes is how to restructure regional studies: are regional studies possible as such, or should the concept be abandoned as the division between research interests becomes more ‘problematic’? If regionality is maintained, then how should researchers perceive these ‘regions’ and their borders? This question is particularly relevant for Russian anthropology and ethnography, which has long developed and institutionalised as a complex of clear-cut regional subdivisions. There is concern that without regional expertise, the profession of anthropology and ethnography will lose its disciplinary identity, continuity, existing schools of thought, and professionalism. At the same time, there is an awareness that prioritising regionality and maintaining the regional boundaries of the past is inconsistent with contemporary scholarly methods and the realities of a globalising and rapidly transforming world order. Another issue is the stake that governments and political elite have in the way regional studies are restructured, and the competition between various political interests to name a given region and define its borders. In this context, anthropologists and ethnographers need to self-reflect on their personal reasons for participating in political projects, and whether or not they will become neo-colonialist actors in the new ‘great game’. In this Forum researchers discuss these issues in the context of Central Asia, or Central Asian Studies.

Keywords: Regional Studies, Area Studies, Central Asia, Central Asian Studies.

To cite: 'Forum: What is the Role of "Regional Studies" in Contemporary Anthropology? — Exploring the Case of Central Asia', Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 2016, no. 12, pp. 8–122.

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/eng012/forum.pdf