Inequalities in CEE

Course Description: 

The end of the Cold War unleashed transformations that have reshaped the political, ideological, economic, and social landscapes in Central and Eastern Europe. Global capitalism and its local anchors, new state machineries embracing models from liberal democracies to nationalist authoritarianism, and organized or disorganized social reactions are coalescing in various durable or transient configurations of social hierarchies and inequalities. The course will investigate interpretations of the political, social and scholarly debates that address the post-Cold-War construction and experiences of inequalities across various axes of power and domination. Central and Eastern Europe will be viewed both as a location and subject of explaining the sources, manifestations, and logic of producing, legitimizing, and resisting to outstanding forms of inequalities.      

Class discussion will highlight transformations in global capitalism that have saliently effected Central and Eastern Europe since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Inquiries will be reviewed that contemplate on state practices emerging through welfare concepts and systems but also through various regulatory and disciplinary regimes. Debates concerning the alleged tradeoffs and the intersections between socio-economic and ‘identity’ based marginalization and struggles will also be studied. Societal reactions, popular imagination, coping mechanisms, and citizens’ actions will also be discussed.   

The course primarily reviews anthropological or anthropologically informed interpretations of inequality mechanisms and debates by linking the field to sociological, historical, and political economy, and human geography scholarship as well. The knowledge to be built during the course will generate comparative insights without promising a balanced and thorough ‘regional’ overview. 

Learning Outcomes: 

The course intends to help students acquire knowledge of the basic concepts and debates in critical social sciences that address the production, reproduction, and social hierarchies that modern political and moral thought calls inequalities. The anthropological scholarship will be in the center of our attention by stretching the attention to intersections and overlaps not only with the larger disciplinary arenas but gender, racial, migration, welfare, nationalism and other ‘studies’ as well.  The core readings will give insights most importantly in how social anthropology, inspired by sociological, historical, economic, political, and geographical thought, explores those forces and practices that shape social transformations in Central and Eastern Europe resulting in outstanding forms of inequalities in the post-Cold-War era.

 The teaching methods will help students relate different pieces of knowledge and critically evaluate the differences and overlaps in the arguments offered by the readings. The seminar format will contribute to developing students’ skills in formulating ideas, articulating theoretical and analytical puzzles and expressing opinions. Presentations will invite students to test and upgrade their skills in critically grasping the assigned readings and to engage in intellectual exchanges with their peers. The tandem based work backing research and the presentation will ensure that students participate in peer group based reflections and knowledge building. The instructor will provide written comments on the term paper to help students develop their academic writing skills.

 The class will meet once a week and work in a seminar format. Different assignments will ensure that students are prepared for actively engage in exploring knowledge both collectively and individually throughout the course. Class discussions and individual consultations upon request will ensure that students are able to obtain knowledge beyond the key readings that informs their specific interests, thesis projects, and further academic or professional plans.


(1) Class participation 

Active participation in the weekly sessions by all enrolled (including auditing) students is expected. Students shall do the required readings prior to the class and be prepared to address the key questions that the readings articulate. Each student shall formulate a discussion point or question in writing and upload those on the e-learning site of the course by 12.00 (noon) on the day of the class. The question can offer concise reflections on the readings, sort out conceptual puzzles, contest arguments, and link different topics of the course, etc. The question should be stated in a short paragraph. Students might be asked to present their discussion question in the session. Absence from class is expected to be reported in advance and the questions to the readings of the missed class should be uploaded in due course.

(2) Mini-research – individual or tandem work

Students will complete mini-inquiries in topics that they select from a list recommended by the instructor or formulated by their own initiatives. The latter option shall be negotiated with the instructor. Students can work individually or in tandems. Desk research shall be the main source of information and data. The recommended topics will dwell on either some forces, manifestations, or concrete cases of inequality configurations or offer comparative insights. A theoretical or conceptual debate could also be addressed. The course readings can be used for exploring the selected topics but additional literature shall also be consulted (3-4 items or a book per project). One week in the middle of the semester without a formal session shall be used to boost the research projects. The results of the mini-research will be presented to the class in the last session. Visual presentation tools could be applied yet those shall not overshadow the content. The presentations or a two-page bullet pointed or narrative report shall be up-loaded on the course e-learning site by the end of the teaching semester.    

(3) Term paper

Students enrolled for grade are required to write a term paper (3,000-3,500 words each). The due date of the paper will be agreed a least three weeks before the end of the teaching period. It is recommended that the topic of the paper is identical with that of the mini-research. The paper can take the form of a reaction paper to the main readings, a critical review of a main debate in the literature, an empirical case study. The reaction paper should sort out the main arguments of the key reading(s), compare the positions of different authors on an issue, or debate the overall conclusions of the readings, etc. In any selected genre of writing, students are encouraged to be reflexive on clearly stated grounds (e.g. methodological, theoretical, ideological, empirical etc.). Please avoid sweeping generalizations and strong judgments without reasoning. Personal voice is welcome but the tone and level of the discussion should be scholarly.


The final grade will be composed by the class participation including the weekly question formulations (30%), the research (mini)project presentation (30%) and the term paper (40%).     


 The course has an e-learning site titled as the full course name. Enrolled students are requested to join the site as participants.

 Compulsory readings and most of the recommended readings are uploaded on the e-learning site. Those students who wish to have a course reader should contact the departmental coordinators. 

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