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Accepted Paper:

Top secret: Czech anthropology of the 1960s as a spy project  
Jiří Woitsch (Czech Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper aims to raise methodological and ethical question connected to the history of Czech ethnology in 1960s: How to approach projects and personalities, which introduced anthropology-oriented research into local environment but were stimulated and controlled by communist secret services.

Paper long abstract:

Theory, methodology and research focus of Czech ethnology from late 1950s to 1970s was significantly affected by a group of scholars, which successfully adopted sociological and anthropological theories of "Western" origin. Academic debates and concrete research projects carried out especially in various countries of Africa and Latin America introduced an "up to date" science to the local environments, which were mostly based on outdated nationalistic principles originating in the 19th Century. It is thus no wonder that long after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, this orientation in Czech ethnology/anthropology was regarded as a positive deviation in the gloomy history of the discipline in the second half of the 20th century. However, recently discovered archive sources show that almost all of the projects were from the very beginning stimulated and strongly controlled by Czechoslovak or even Soviet secret services. The main objective of the contemporary research was the gain of political and economic influence in post-colonial countries and exportation of communist ideology. This fact will be demonstrated on examples of several projects and biographies of "pioneers of Czech anthropology", who were co-workers or even agents of Czechoslovak secret services and most likely also KGB or GRU. The main goal of the paper, however, is to raise more general methodological and ethical questions important for the history of ethnology in Central and Eastern Europe: How to approach and rate projects and personalities, which introduced extremely important anthropology-oriented research into backwarded local ethnography but at the same time served the oppressive regime.

Panel Disc04
Tracking knowledge. On the history of changing disciplinary identities after 1945 [SIEF Working Group Historical Approaches in Cultural Analysis] [P+R]
  Session 1 Monday 15 April, 2019, -