Think Globally, Act Locally? Anthropological Strategies in/of East-Central Europe

Monika Baer


The paper aims to analyze the main arguments and dynamics of the debate on anthropological traditions in/of East-Central Europe through the prism of the “anthropology of postsocialism,” which has signifi cantly conditioned intellectual exchange over the last decade. The internal logic of strategies employed by participants in the discussion has recently shifted from the need to “catch up with the West” towards a “think globally, act locally” rhetoric, but
it has not managed to break entirely with an unproblematized concept of diff erence. Consequently, such binaries as East – West or local – global more or less explicitly still provide the organizing principles of the discourses in question. In the light of this predicament, the author turns to a toolbox that includes some elements of the “anthropology of the contemporary” of Paul Rabinow, the “para-ethnography” of George Marcus and the “ethnography in late industrialism” of Kim Fortun. Th e purpose of the suggested analytical devices is to destabilize the categories utilized in the discussed debate on the one hand, and to show its embeddedness in the wider context of the contemporary world on the other. This enables moving beyond dichotomous thinking and toward a more all-encompassing approach.

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