Post-war Polish ethnology and anthropology: from non-Marxist orthodoxy to post-socialist pluralism
Michal Buchowski (Adam Mickiewicz University)
Paper short abstract:
Under communist regime Polish ethnology was definitely non-Marxist, In the period of 'late socialism', various theoretical orientations developed, and pluralism intensified after 1989. All these changes are discussed in relation to socio-political determinants and intra-disciplinary dynamics.
Paper long abstract:
Post-war Polish ethnography/ethnology, as the discipline was called until 1980s, underwent a complex intellectual trajectory. Its actual practice differed from stereotypical Western images about social sciences under communism. In the first period, ethnography was definitely non-Marxist. It did not have anything in common with dialectical materialism as a normative theoretical explanation. In the 1970s and 1980s, in reaction to the naïve realism and empiricism of ethnography, ethnologists began to search for methods of interpretation and of theories going beyond those positivist schemata. By the end of the 1980s, Polish anthropology formed a self-conscious discipline representing various theoretical orientations. In terms of disciplinary origin and academic affiliation, it was comprised of two major pillars, ethnological and sociological. The increasing pluralism of Polish anthropology since mid-1970s intensified after 1989. Changes in the discipline are seen in the socio-political contexts, in relation to social and economic changes in the region, and more recently as a function of the global flow of anthropological ideas. The diversification of paradigms leads to an intellectual entropy and a creation of certain discursive monads. The paper attempts to find a unity and common denominators in diversity.
Topics in the social history of anthropology, in Europe and elsewhere (Europeanist Network)