Accepted paper:

Towards a doubly rooted cosmopolitan anthropology


Chris Hann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

Both native 'ethnographers' and foreign 'anthropologists' produce knowledge about rural Hungary. The paper argues that not much has changed in their division of labour in recent decades. It proceeds to make a general case (as relevant to Britain as to Hungary) for bringing these strands together.

Paper long abstract:

Well before the demise of the European colonial empires, their anthropological knowledge production began to change as a result of engagement with societies that had their own textual traditions. Some countries, both inside and outside Europe, generated bodies of knowledge closely related to comparative social anthropology, even if the focus was often restricted to that country (or to a single 'nationality' within it). The two types of anthropology were classically described for the case of Hungary by Tamás Hofer in an article in Current Anthropology in 1969. During the 1970s, both 'native ethnographers' and foreign socio-cultural anthropologists carried out research in rural Hungary. It is interesting to compare their outputs with the equivalent knowledge production of recent years: despite the rhetoric of globalization, I shall suggest that not much has changed in the interaction between foreigners and natives since the 1970s. What is new is that students in Budapest can nowadays study socio-cultural anthropology as a separate program in a separate faculty, entirely distinct from Hungarian néprajz. This is consistent with Hofer's wish in 1969 that the two variants of anthropology should maintain their separate identities. But I shall take this Hungarian example to argue for the benefits of institutional unification. The resulting larger, more cosmopolitan department should not lack local roots. On the contrary, the better integration of national ethnography into both research and teaching should facilitate the persistence of distinctive national, regional and institution-specific intellectual traditions.

panel IW09
Changing global flows of anthropological knowledge - a WCAA-EASA workshop