Book Launch: Hunters, Gatherers, and Practitioners of Powerlessness

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Masaryk Senior Common Room at UCL SSEES 16 Taviton Street
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The socio-economic transformations of the 1990s have forced many people in Poland into impoverishment. Hunters, Gatherers, and Practitioners of Powerlessness: An Ethnography of the Degraded in Postsocialist Poland gives a dramatic account of life after this degradation, tracking the experiences of unemployed miners, scrap collectors, and poverty-stricken village residents. Contrary to the images of passivity, resignation, and helplessness that have become powerful tropes in Polish journalism and academic writing, Tomasz Rakowski traces the ways in which people actively reconfigure their lives. As it turns out, the initial sense of degradation and helplessness often gives way to images of resourcefulness that reveal unusual hunting-and-gathering skills.

This event will feature a discussion with author Dr Tomasz Rakowski,Instytut Etnologii i Antropologii Kulturowej, SSEES Director Professor Jan Kubik, Dr Nicolette Makovicky, University of Oxford, and Dr Frances Pine,Goldsmiths, University of London.


Tomasz Rakowski is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw. He is also a medical doctor, specialist in Accident & Emergency medicine. He conducts fieldwork in Poland and Mongolia.

Professor Jan Kubik is Director of the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, Professor of Slavonic and East European Studies at UCL SSEES, and Pro-Vice Provost for Europe at UCL. His research focusses on the interplay between power (politics) and culture, protest politics and social movements, and post-communist transformations. He also writes about qualitative methods in the social sciences. 

Dr Nicolette Makovicky is Lecturer in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Oxford. Her research considers the impact of socio-economic reforms and European Union integration policies on historically embedded modes of economic activity in Central Europe, including artisanal crafts and food production. She has a particular theoretical interest in processes of value creation, work ethics, entrepreneurialism, gender, and citizenship in post-socialist society.

Dr Frances Pine is Reader in Anthropology at Goldsmiths University of London. She has been conducting research in eastern Europe for the past 3 decades. Her field work has been located in the Polish Tatra Mountains, the countryside of eastern and central Poland, and the cities of Lublin and Lodz. She has worked on kinship and gender, place, history and memory, work, markets, informal economy, unemployment and restructuring, and migration and emerging inequalities.