Department of Social Anthropology of the Ethnology Institute, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was founded in October 2013 and is the first scholarly institution in Ukraine, officially representing this field of study. The Department is working on institutionalization of a social anthropology in Ukrainian academy.
Content of concept of “Social Anthropology”
Social Anthropology is aimed at studying the human being and their social environment in the current and historical time. Whilst Social Anthropology offers specialized focus on social communities, movements and phenomena, its main aim is to study a sociodynamics, structures and identities. An important feature of this discipline is studying the micro-social interactions through intensive field research using methodologies that are based at the intersection of many disciplines (ethnology, history, sociology, linguistics, psychology, mathematics, computer science, physics, etc.) and related branches (micro-sociology, sociolinguistics, communicative studies etc.). Social anthropology is directed at interpretive approaches to culture and is based on phenomenological epistemologies.
One of the features of a Social Anthropology is a disciplinary eccentricity, which means that fundamental scholarly findings are made on the periphery of disciplines. New productive areas of the social science arise at the intersection of complex and mutually exclusive migration processes across disciplinary, geographical, social and cultural boundaries. As an example of breaking through the boundaries of historical research we can mention a reconstruction of the past through the perspective of life narratives of ordinary people, perceptions of individuals and social groups, studying the formation of identities through social interaction.
Social Anthropology represents an human being, ethnicity, society in motion and transgressing political, social, cultural, gender, personal, natural boundaries, which became visible in the context of globalization. Globalisation opens up the possibility to study a human and a society not only through the prism of “facts” as the sum of stable data, which, depending on the method of obtaining them (problem solving and methodology), transfer into a sort of the “pyramid of completion”, but also through the eventfulness, everyday routine having the mode of “motion”, “variability” that is self-fulfilment. At the same time, the study of human sustainable structures, renewable and recurring meaningful actions that create the basics of culture in its transformations never ceases to remain a task of Social Anthropology.
In general, Social Anthropology is a response of humanities to the challenge of universalization of knowledge and globalization of social processes. Various disciplinary fields of knowledge are the way to reach the dynamics of human co-existence through human mind and feelings. This statement is associated with the sequential change of relationship between nature and society in human history, – from pre-modern domination of the natural over the social, through the balance between the first and the latest in the era of modernization, to postmodern times, for which the space of Nature increasingly becomes the Social space. Thus, the ratio of the natural and social in formation of identities as traditional field of ethnology takes on a new dimension in Social Anthropology.
The combination of methodologies, which have different disciplinary origin, and also the creation of independent methodological tools for each research project are typical for Social Anthropology.
Areas of Research
An important direction of the Department’s field of study is modern migrations since the latter reveal the borders of identities and their intersections, as well as the relationship between identities and mobility. Thus, border studies are another priority of our activity.
Importance of micro-social, horizontal processes and relations in the postmodern era expands the range of identities in the study of the past, and owing to mobile technologies, the “visibility” of eventfulness in social relationships enables the study of current change of identities. This, in turn, is connected with the evolution of the concept of identity from “membership of a social group” to anthropocentric understanding, both being the components of individual and social space; the very identity is considered as a dynamic dimension of self-fulfillment. An opportunity to explore the human over formations (social, cultural) thus appears, through tracing relativity of the latter to the first, treating them in a broader context of the way of human life. Therefore, the development of theoretical concepts and methodologies associated with the study of social mobilities in the wider sense of the content and ways of transition from one social level to another, Gender Studies, study of everyday life are essential for the formation of the Department.
Socio-Anthropological studies focus on the study of the production and circulation of senses. A unique achievement of the Department is the development of philosophical theory of sense (fundamental sensology) by Senior Research Fellow Roman Kis’. Its concepts coincide with the Department’s focus on the creation and implementation of monitoring methodologies and technologies with a stress on the integration of so-called qualitative and quantitative research methods encouraging the study of processes, phenomena, relations in the current and retrospective dimensions.
Theoretical and methodological findings of the staff of the Department allow us to tackle the study of sociodynamics and mobilities in the XXI century with a focus on the transformations of time, space and movement, Genealogy of indicative signs as a part of the anthropology of visual communication. The areas of research specialization as anthropology of politics, anthropology of work, socialization of natural environment are also seem very promising for the development of the Department.
The main form of the Department staff activities is the realization of personal and joint research projects. The development of the specializations on issues of research is planned by means of data collection and analysis that will eventually grow into separate institutionalized areas within and outside the Department.
The Laboratory for data structuring is expected to be set up to provide for the elaboration of research methodologies and technologies, integration of databases of various projects, which will allow to create a database and analyze it in the current mode through transfer of elaborated theoretical approaches and methodologies in monitoring technology. Applied studies related to the specialization of the Department and workshops are planned to be carried out in the Laboratory. Its data and potentials will be applied to create new research opportunities.
The Internal research seminar of the Department performs the function of testing theoretical approaches and methodological tools, scientific concepts of the personnel, creation of joint theoretical and methodological areas of research.
The External Methodological seminar of the Department of Social Anthropology aims at setting research questions that require joint efforts of scholars “at the crossroads” of disciplines (humanities, social, hard and natural sciences), and creating beyond disciplinary methodologies for their solution.
Today the staff of the Department consists of eight employees and one graduate student. They all have different basic education: philosophical, historical, sociological, philological, journalist. Postgraduate education is incorporated in the research and theoretical work of the Department. Post graduates are involved in research projects, use their results in their dissertations, – meeting the purpose of the Department:
creation of a scholarly community that unites studies from various fields of the relevant area of setting problematics and the formation of theoretical and methodological worktable of its solution.