Visegrád Anthropologists’ Network (V4 Net)

SUMMARY: The Visegrád Anthropologists’ Network (V4 Net) was launched on 9th October 2017 at the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology on the initiative of Chris Hann. Its main purpose is to contribute to a better understanding of contemporary social phenomena in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia (the V4) by applying the theories and methods of anthropology, broadly defined. A second goal, especially important when many educational institutions in the V4 face severe pressures, is to consolidate the standing of the discipline of anthropology in this region, in fruitful conversations with adjacent fields of the social sciences and the humanities.

The Visegrád countries – Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, also known as the V4 – have had a bad reputation of late in the Western media. These countries came together in 1991 on the basis of historical affinities dating back to the Middle Ages. In the postsocialist decades, they display similarities in their economies, political institutions and social structures. Since 2004 the Visegrád states have enjoyed all the benefits of EU membership, yet they have been reluctant to share the burden of the "migrant crisis" that erupted in 2015. It is not just political solidarity with the EU that is judged to be lacking: Western politicians and journalists bemoan nationalism and Islamophobia in East-Central Europe, when humanitarian sympathy with refugees is called for. According to some observers, pluralism and the rule of law have been under threat for years, especially in Hungary and Poland.

There has been relatively little comparative anthropological research into contemporary developments in the V4 (a club in which we include former East Germany as an honorary member, since many of the same phenomena are all too evident here, not least in voting patterns). V4Net aims to fill this gap. With a mix of empirical projects exploring both political economy and changing social relations and notions of personhood, the aim in the years 2017-2021 is to create a solid foundation to address larger conceptual questions concerning trust and social cohesion in states that used to be on the periphery of the Soviet empire and now find themselves structurally marginalised by the EU and global capitalism.

This initiative will support increased collaboration between researchers – doctoral candidates and post-docs as well as established scholars – at leading centres of anthropological research in the region. In addition to arranging regular conferences and workshops, the network will facilitate the mobility of individual schoalrs between all the participating institutes. Senior and junior members alike will be encouraged to spend time at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, to work on their own projects as well as to provide stimulus and guidance to the research community in Halle.

Network Membership

Membership - October, 2019

Network Activities

The following conferences and workshops have been supported in whole or in part by the V4 Network:

9 October 2017  "Visegrád Anthropologists' Network (VAN): Launch Meeting"

7 - 8 June 2018  "Visegrád Belongings: Freedoms, Responsibilities and Everyday Dilemmas"

18 - 19 October 2018  "Thrift in Anthropology: Between Thriftiness and Wasting"

1 -2 April 2019  "Social and Cultural Consequences of Voluntary and Forced Migration in Europe" (Call for Papers; Conference Programme; Conference Report)

On September 24th - 25th 2019 a follow-up conference was convened by Zdeněk Uherek in the imposing setting of the Order of Malta Grand Priory of Bohemia Building, central Prague, with the title "Migration and the Generational Experience". The convenor intends to proceed to a publication in due course. (Call for Papers; Conference Programme; Conference Report)

2 - 5 September 2020 "Locating Religion and Nonreligion in Eastern/ Central Europe" (Conference Programme; Conference Report)

15 - 16 October 2020 "Nation-Building and the Dynamics of Silences, Memory and Forgettings" (Call for Papers; Workshop Programme; Workshop Report); Convenor: Elena Soler (Charles University, Prague)

Call for Papers: "Tradition and Solidarity in the Visegrád Countries in the Pandemic Moment"

31. 3. – 3. 4. 2021 in Modra, Slovakia

Convenors: Juraj Buzalka (Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University, Bratislava) and Margit Feischmidt (Research Centre for Social Sciences, Minority Studies Institute, Budapest)

POSTPONED until April 2022. Further information can be obtained from the organsiers.

14 - 17 July 2021 "Vox Populi Visegradensis. The Anthropology of East-Central Europe" (Conference Programme; Conference Summary)

Postdoctoral positions within the frame of V4Net

Postdoctoral scholarships have been awarded to the following: Emma P. Greeson, Joanna Mroczkowska, Nikolaos Olma, Gergely Pulay, Michal Sipos, Kristóf Szombati and Johana Wyss.

Doctoral-level support within the frame of V4Net

Scholarships and supplementary sources of aid are available to support doctoral projects undertaken by students registered at one of the cooperating institutions of the Network. As of January 2020 support has been extended to the following students:

Butko, Matej (Comenius University, Bratislava); Project: "The post-socialist Schengen borderlands: Comparative perspective on the local governance, economy and power" (Supervisor: Juraj Buzalka)

Cichocka, Ewa (University of Warsaw); Project: "Life strategies of second-generation immigrants and intergenerational transfers in a multicultural city. The example of Polish immigrant families in Berlin" (Supervisor: Sławomir Łodziński)

Gosztonyi, Balázs (Corvinus University, Budapest); Project: "From Waste to Vintage: an exploration of an informal value chain in the EU" (Supervisor: Zsombor Csata)

Grześkowiak, Kamila (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań); Project: "In the name of security. Securitization of everyday life in Poland as a reaction to the socio-political situation in Europe" (Supervisor: Michał Buchowski)

Hrčková, Jana (Central European University, Budapest); Project: "Wedges of Warsaw: on green infrastructure and pollution in a postsocialist city" (Supervisor: Daniel Monterescu)

Kremmler, Katrin (Humboldt University, Berlin); Project: "'Eurasian Magyars': Postcolonial perspectives on Hungarian Neo-nationalism" (Supervisors: Regina Römhild and Margit Feischmidt)

Król, Katarzyna Ewa (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw); Project: "Knowledge production and biomedical cultures within rare diseases in Poland" (Supervisor: Małgorzata Rajtar)

Mašek, Pavel (University of West Bohemia, Pilsen); Project: "Rusting Away: An Ethnography of Automobiles, Value, Informality, and Daily Morality at a Salvage Yard" (Supervisor: Daniel Sosna)

Ort, Jan (Charles University, Prague); Project: "The Policy of 'Controlled Dispersal' of the Roma in the 1960s in former Czechoslovakia. A case study of Humenné District" (Supervisor: Helena Sadílková)

Ort-Mertlová, Sandra (Comenius University, Bratislava); Project: "The Roma Community of Eastern Slovakia from the Perspective of Dependence, Dominance and Reciprocity" (Supervisor: Juraj Podoba)

Stehlíková, Barbora (Charles University, Prague); Project: "E-Waste between Morality and Ethics: waste practices in the Czech Republic" (Supervisor: Daniel Sosna)

Tołłoczko-Suchańska, Barbara (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw); Project: "Social Life of Foreign Things: changes within relations of people and objects since the 1970s in Poland" (Supervisor: Anna Wieczorkiewicz)

Tremčinský, Martin (Charles University, Prague); Project: "Technologies of Exchange: Comparison of Currency Design and Its Political Impact" (Supervisor: Jakub Grygar)

Urbanowicz, Roman (University of Warsaw/ University of Helsinki); Project: "Uncertain Prospects Behind the Edge of Europe: Projected Futures of Polish Youth in North-Western Belarus" (Initial supervisor at Warsaw: Agnieszka Halemba; Present supervisor, following transfer to Helsinki: Sarah Green)

Vangel, Márk (University of Szeged/ University of Pécs); Project: "Working Abroad at Home: Unequal Development from the Perspectives of MB-Workers in a Rapidly Changing Hungarian Town" (Supervisors: Bertalan Pusztai and Ágnes Hesz)

Virtová, Tereza (Charles University, Prague); Project: "Work, create, innovate! Inquiring into startup scene in the Czech Republic" (Supervisor: Tereza Stöckelová)

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