Course description

The course aims to introduce students to the critical debate on the issue of postsocialism in social sciences, as well as to discuss several relevant questions connected with socio-cultural changes in Central and Eastern Europe.

The debate on postsocialism in CEE will be presented in a global context. We will discuss the relationships and possible links between theories of post-socialism and post-colonial theory as well as theories of globalization and global governance. The goal is to acquire an enhanced view of how postsocialist lives are defined, experienced and understood by those living them. In so doing, we will focus on the contradictions, paradoxes and ambiguities of postsocialism by looking closely at gender, religious practice and its transformations, politics, economy, heritage and food politics. Each topic will be presented by lecturers from various V4 countries. Most examples and texts will focus on V4 countries. The juxtaposition of these topics will allow us to think comparatively of different forms of postsocialism, as well as read more carefully and critically more general descriptions of postsocialism.
In 2014/2015 the course was held for the first time. The next enrollment, for 2016/17, will take place in the winter semester more.

Debates on postsocialism in V4 countries in the global context (course supported by the International Visegrad Fund, grant no. 61300009).
Project Coordinator: Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska
Course Supervisor: Agnieszka Kościańska

Syllabus for 2016/17

4 October: Introduction and class rules

18 October: General debate on post-socialism and post-communism in anthropological perspective

The first session aims to introduce students to the recent works of post-socialism in social sciences, to assess the state of the field, as well as critically examine methodological, analytical and theoretical issues offered by this concept.

Lecturer: Dr. Agnieszka Kościańska, University of Warsaw


  • Buchowski, M. (2006) The specter of orientalism in Europe: from exotic other to stigmatized brother. Anthropological Quarterly, Vol 79, no 3, pp. 463-482.
  • Cervinkova, H. (2012) Postcolonialism, postsocialism and the anthropology of east-central Europe. Journal of Postcolonial Writing 48:2, pp. 155-163.
  • Hann, C. Humphrey, C. and Verdery, K. (2002) Introduction. Postsocialism. Ideals, Ideologies and Practice in Eurasia. Hann, C. M. (ed.), London & New York: Routledge, pp. 1-27.

8 November: Migration in the postsocialist context

The session explores migration and mobilities from and to V4 countries as sites for studying social change in post-socialist societies.

Lecturer: Dr. Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska, University of Warsaw


  • Patzer H., Góralska M., Winkowska M.  (2015) The Stadium as a Witness. A Story of a Changing Monument, "View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture" no. 9:
  • Wallace Claire (2002) Opening and closing borders: Migration and mobility in East-Central Europe, „Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies”, vol. 28, nr 4, s. 603-625

22 November: Men and masculinities in the post-socialist context

The session on men and masculinities introduces social practices as well as symbolic realms reproducing the gendered structure in post-socialist societies. Various arenas of men and masculine domination are presented based on empirical evidence from research studies in order to discuss issues of power and powerlessness.

Lecturer: Dr. Iva Šmídová, Masaryk University, Brno


  • Connell, R. W., and James W. Messerschmidt. 2005. ‘Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept’. Gender & Society 19 (6): 829–59. 
  • Connell, R. 2002. Gender. Cambridge UK;Malden MA: Polity;Blackwell Publishers. Chapter 2: Schools, Mines, Sex and War
  • Special Issue "Muži a mužství/Men and Masculinities". Gender, rovné příležitosti, výzkum/Gender, Equal Opportunities, Research 2015:16(1) read the Introduction and two interviews, one with Raewyn Connell and one with Jeff Hearn
  • Special Issue "Men and masculinities in the European dimension”. Studia Humanistyczne AGH 2015:14 (2) Introduction and one selected article according to students´ own choice

6 December: Homophobia and its significance in postsocialist spaces 

These issues have become increasingly salient and contentious in both scholarship and European politics in recent years. In this class we will explore the implications of recent discourses and practices of “postsocialist homophobia” for sexual politics in the region.

Lecturer: Prof. Hadley Renkin, Central European University


  • Renkin, H. (2009) Homophobia and Queer Belonging in Hungary. Focaal – European Journal of Anthropology. 53 (1, Spring), pp. 20-37.
  • Graff, A. (2010) Looking at Pictures of Gay Men: Political Uses of Homophobia in Contemporary Poland. Public Culture. 22(3), pp. 583-603.

20 December: Moralities of postsocialism: the view from religion

This session provides an overview to debates on religion and morality in postsocialist societies.  It looks at postsocialist transformations through questions of ethics, individual and collective moralities showing how religion constitutes a privileged space for remaking self and society.

Lecturer: Dr. Vlad Naumescu, Central European University


  • Naumescu, Vlad. 2016. "The End Times and the Near Future: Old Believers' Ethical Engagements." JRAI (N.S.) 22 (2):314–331. doi: 10.1111/1467-9655.12379
  • Wanner, Catherine. 2007. Introduction. In Communities of the converted : Ukrainians and global evangelism, Culture and society after socialism. Ithaca, N.Y.: Bristol : Cornell University Press.

Further references

  • Pelkmans,  Mathijs, ed. 2009. Conversion after Socialism: Disruptions, Modernisms, and the Technologies of Faith. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
  • Steinberg, Mark D., and Catherine Wanner. 2008. Religion, morality, and community in post-Soviet societies, pp. 1- 20. Washington, D.C. Bloomington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; Indiana University Press.
  • Zigon, Jarrett. 2010. Making the new post-Soviet person : moral experience in contemporary Moscow. Leiden ; Boston: Brill.
  • Zigon, Jarrett  ed. 2012. Multiple moralities and religions in post-Soviet Russia. New York: Berghahn Books.

10 January: Sexuality and gender panic in Central Europe: The case of Poland

The lecture seeks to understand the historical roots of contemporary ideas about and current moral panic over sexuality and gender in Poland and Central Europe. Drawing on ethnographic and archival materials from Poland, as well as primary and secondary sources relating to sexuality in Central Europe, the lecture presents a counter history of sexuality after the Second World War challenging assumptions that current gender and sexuality panic results from Eastern “backwardness,” compared to the “developed” West. This history is situated within a global context and focuses on expert discourses that inform the construction of sexuality, especially those articulated by medical (sexological), legal, religious (Catholic) and activist (feminist and LGBTQ) communities.

Lecturer: Dr. Agnieszka Kościańska, University of Warsaw


  • Aghdgomelashvili E., A. Arganashvili, A. Nikoghosyan, B. Juhász, Z. Maďarová, E. Korolczuk, M. Grabowska, T. Zlobina, T. Martsenyuk, V. Piatrukovich, J. Smiggels Kavková, V. Šprincová, J. Višnjić (2015) Anti-Gender Movements on the Rise? Strategising for Gender Equality in Central and Eastern Europe. Berlin: Heinrich Böll Foundation. Available on-line:

Further references:

24 January:  Presentations of students’ projects. General discussion.

Lecturer: Dr. Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska, University of Warsaw, Dr. Agnieszka Kościańska, University of Warsaw

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