Reviews

Since the beginning of its work in Halle in 1999, the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology has been emphasising comparative approaches, in principle world-wide.  This does not prevent the institute’s two departments focus on the vast regions of Asia and Europe that have experienced Marxist-Leninist or Maoist regimes in the recent past.  The analysis of radical reordering on this scale poses a challenge to anthropology:  How did the consolidation of socialism and its later disintegration affect ‘everyday’ consciousness and social relations?  And just as importantly, what did not change during this double rupture?  The goal of the newly launched series is to improve the understanding of social processes in present-day Eurasia, completing the knowledge provided by other disciplines and advancing comparative anthropological knowledge.  The contributors to the present volume explore the mix of continuity and change in the countryside following the demise of socialist regimes, through the multifaceted realities of post-socialist rural life.  As in other sectors, the principle of private property has been strongly reasserted in agriculture, but entrepreneurial adaptations have been hindered by the absence of farming skills among the younger rural population, the lack of financing to put newly owned land to use, and the bleak conditions of agricultural market worldwide.  Many rural people’s living standards have declined.  The Editors have postulated that property offers a helpful window through which to understand the problems of post-socialist change, since it has occupied such a central place in the ideology promoted by local governments and international bodies.  The standard liberal model privileges private ownership but neglects questions of social identity and the norms of values of the community.  The experiences of rural inhabitants highlight a more general need to move beyond the analysis of property rights to a wider analysis of property relations.  The case studies collected in the present volume derive from the first cycle of projects carried out at the Max Planck Institute for social Anthropology.  Among the papers particularly relevant to Central Eurasian studies, see: Kaneff Deema, Yalçın-Heckmann Lale, “Retreat to the Cooperative or to the Household? Agricultural Privatisation in Ukraine and Azerbaijan,” 219-56 (reviewed in infra 714); Gray Patty A., “Volga Farmers and Arctic Herders: Common (Post)Socialist Experience in Rural Russia,” 293-321 (infra 700).

The Redaction
CER: I-8.1-692