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P176


Engaged anthropology at times of nationalistic enhancement in the XX century
Convenors:
Grazyna Kubica-Heller (Jagiellonian University)
Anna Engelking (Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences)
Format:
Panels
Sessions:
Thursday 23 July, 8:30-10:30, 11:00-13:00 (UTC+1)

Short abstract:

We would like to discuss the engagement of anthropologists in fighting with or supporting XX cent. nationalisms. Why some were using anthropological knowledge to deconstruct nationalisms, while others were doing just the opposite: they were engaged in strengthening them?

Long abstract:

As Thomas Hylland Eriksen noticed, classical anthropology played an important role in the intellectual life of the West. The founding fathers of the discipline: Morgan, Tylor and Frazer, took active part in the debates of their time. On some issues, the next generation followed the path ot their predecessors: they participated actively in the public debate. Malinowski opposed violence and war. Boas actively stood up against racism. Benedict and Mead showed anthropology as a fresh and interesting approach to human diversity. It was similar in other countries like Poland, where one can find examples of such an attitude: Jan Stanisław Bystroń criticizing national megalomania, or Józef Obrębski - Polish colonialism in Polesie. But there were also anthropologists who actively participated in nationalistic discourses of their time. This has been especially the case in the new countries in Central and Eastern Europe that emerged after the Great War. We would like to discuss the engagement of anthropologists in fighting with or supporting XX cent. nationalisms. We are looking for answers to the question why some were using anthropological knowledge to deconstruct nationalisms, while others were doing just the opposite: they were engaged in strengthening them. We are interested in particular case studies, as well as synthesizing papers. We hope that the panel will help us to understand the contemporary situation. How to defend the ideas of multiculturalism and pluralism, the importance of citizenship and openness, when the nationalistic enhancement is again so powerful?