Department 'Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia'

Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia, 1999-2021


This Department ceased to exist formally with the retirement of Founding Director Chris Hann on 31st August, 2021, following twenty-two years of service in Halle. Research Group Leaders Christoph Brumann and Kirsten Endres continue their work at the institute. Due to Covid-19, two collective initiatives could not be concluded according to the original timetable. The final activities of the MAX PLANCK CAMBRIDGE CENTRE FOR ETHICS, ECONOMY AND SOCIAL CHANGE (MAX-CAM) and of the VISEGRÁD ANTHROPOLOGISTS’ NETWORK (V4 Net) were postponed to 2022. The Abschiedsvorlesung and final symposium of Chris Hann were also postponed (to 23rd and 24th June, 2022).

Chris Hann does not have a single visionary retirement project. As an Emeritus Director he will continue to visit former field sites, especially those in Hungary, and to publish on “populist” politics in the era of neoliberal political economy. He intends to maintain his wider interests in Polanyian economic anthropology (amply illustrated in the volume presented to him on his retirement , edited by Deema Kaneff and Kirsten Endres). He also hopes to find more time to explore and write about the civilizations of Eurasia in world history, with the aim of integrating the threads of economy, polity and religion. And he will, of course, maintain close links with new generations of researchers at the Halle institute.


The department addressed a variety of themes. A strong focus on economic anthropology was characteristic throughout but other topics were also addressed, in particular religion and history. Researchers hailed from all continents, though Europeans were dominant at both doctoral and postdoctoral levels. Alongside the director, Christoph Brumann, Kirsten Endres, Dittmar Schorkowitz and Lale Yalçın-Heckmann headed research groups and supervised doctoral students funded by the department. The department also hosted two groups funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. Almost all projects were located spatially on the landmass of Eurasia, the great majority in societies that were until recently shaped by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideologies.

A comprehensive listing of collective projects and team members down to 2014 was provided in a report edited by Jennifer Cash and submitted to the institute’s Advisory Board in 2014. A short overview providing statistical information (e.g. on the balance between postdoctoral researchers and PhD students, and completion rates for the latter) was included in the institute’s report to the Advisory Board in 2020.

In its first years (1999-2005) this department concentrated its research on postsocialist property relations. This was followed by a project on citizenship in the Caucasus led by Lale Yalçın-Heckmann and by a series of studies of religion after socialism (until 2010). Themes and spatial boundaries were progressively expanded to include China and Vietnam (from 2006) and Japan (from 2009). Research in economic anthropology was generally been organized in teams of six postdocs, with responsibility being shared between Chris Hann and external experts. The investigation of Economy and Ritual was conducted with Stephen Gudeman, that of Industry and Inequality with Catherine Alexander and Jonathan Parry, and that of Financialization with Don Kalb.

All projects of the department were organized within the optic of "Eurasia". From 2009, fieldwork-based research was supplemented by projects in historical anthropology. A concept of Eurasia also formed the frame for our interdisciplinary International Max Planck Research School Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Eurasia (ANARCHIE, 2012-2021) and for an advanced grant awarded to Chris Hann by the European Research Council, Realising Eurasia: Civilization and Moral Economy in the 21st Century (2014-2020).

The year 2017 brought two significant initiatives: a collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, and the Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University, Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change (“Max-Cam"); and a network to strengthen anthropological research in the Visegrád states (“V4 Net”).

The department initiated two publications series, Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia (LIT Verlag, from 2003) and Max Planck Studies in Anthropology and Economy (Berghahn Books, from 2015).

The department hosted the Goody Lectures on eleven occasions between 2011 and 2021.



Max Planck - Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change
The Max Planck Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change is a jointly funded collaboration with the Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge, and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen.
V4 Net
The Visegrád Anthropologists' Network is a loose cooperation of socio-cultural anthropologists dedicated primarily to investigating contemporary social phenomena in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia (the V4).


Recently Completed Projects

Realising Eurasia:Civilisation and Moral Economy in the 21st Century
Project funded by the European Research Council in the Seventh Framework Programme (ERC Advanced Grant) (2014-2020)


The International Max Planck Research School for the Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Eurasia is a Ph.D programme organized jointly with the disciplines of archaeology and history at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg.


Completed Collective Projects

Detail about the department’s research can be located in the institute’s regular reporting to the Advisory Board. Additionally, the agendas and results of some of the most important collective projects have been presented in separate booklets.

Historical Anthropology in Eurasia

Urban Anthropology

The Political and Economic Anthropology of Southeast Asia

Previous Completed Projects

Externally Funded

Completed Projects/ Final Reports


Buddhist Temple Economies in Urban Asia (final report)


Patriarchy and Familism in Time and Space: the comparative study of co-residence across Eurasia (final report)


The Global Political Economy of Cultural Heritage (final report)


Ethnic Minorities and the State in Eurasia (final report)


The Global Political Economy of Cultural Heritage (final report)


Traders, Markets, and the State in Vietnam (final report)


Social Support and Kinship in China and Vietnam (final report)


Religion, Identity, Postsocialism (final report)


Caucasian Boundaries and Citizenship from Below (final report)


Property Relations (final report)


Recent Events

Society and Morality in Eurasia: from Prehistory to the Present Day

Final Conference of the International Max Planck Research School for the Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Eurasia (IMPRS ANARCHIE)
DATE: 07.07.2021 - 09.07.2021
LOCATION: Main Seminar Room



Vox Populi Visegradensis. The Anthropology of East-Central Europe

DATE: 14.07.2021 - 17.07.2021
LOCATION: Schloss Ringberg



Abschiedssymposium für Chris Hann

Chris Hann's Retirement Symposium is postponed until 24 June 2022.
LOCATION: Main Seminar Room


Goody Lecture

Goody Lectures
Thomas Hylland Eriksen University of Oslo/ External Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Title: The Treadmill Paradox in Cultural History: Competitive global capitalism and the Anthropocene challenge

Date: June 24, 2021, 18:00

The following link will allow you to join the event:


Recent Publications


Latest Thinking


Publication Series

Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia (LIT-Verlag, Berlin-Münster-Wien-Zürich-London)

Max Planck Studies in Anthropology and Economy (Berghahn Books)

Go to Editor View