Norway, Oslo

Decentralising Economies: Anthropological Perspectives

when 26 July 2010 - 6 August 2010
duration 2 weeks
credits 9.9 ECTS
fee NOK 3000

The fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later appeared to be the end of a 70-year experiment with a centralised planned economy. To judge from many characterisations at the time, and since, the Cold War opposition between two rival ways of organising social and economic life was concluded with a victory for the free market. The ‘shock therapy’ package of decentralising and liberalising measures was applied to this vast region of the world. The services, assets and responsibilities of the state, were withdrawn or curtailed. The effects have frequently been devastating.

Course leader

Professor Catherine Alexander,rnDepartment of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, rnUniversity of London, United Kingdom

Target group

PhD students

Course aim

The objectives of this lecture course are twofold. The first is to explore how social and economic systems in the former Soviet bloc changed after its collapse in 1991, and how this has been experienced by citizens. Unemployment, for example, led to new work patterns, migration, changed gender roles and awkward engagements with volatile value standards and moralities. The second, parallel objective is to challenge some of the assumptions of Cold War rhetorical oppositions by investigating the broader post-war history of state capitalism and shared legacies. In order to do this, the lectures will highlight common beliefs and practices in apparently different political economies, as well as their material manifestation through similar technologies, materials and aesthetics. Moving forward to the last twenty years, events in the former Soviet Union will be placed in a wider global context, in and beyond Eurasia, of decentralising economies and the consequences for people’s lives.

Fee info

NOK 3000: The fee cover parts of the required reading material, food and social arrangements.