International Max Planck Research School for the Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Eurasia (ANARCHIE)
The International Max Planck Research School for the Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Eurasia (IMPRS ANARCHIE) was launched in 2012 as a cooperation between the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and several institutes of the Philosophische Fakultät 1 of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. The Sprecher of the school were Chris Hann for social anthropology, François Bertemes for archaeology, and Michael G. Müller (2012-2016) followed by Andreas Pečar (2016-2021) for history. ANARCHIE had two Coordinators: Daria Sambuk (2012-2016) and Sascha Roth (2016-2021).
The goal of ANARCHIE was to provide young scholars with the opportunity to pursue a PhD in one of the three disciplines within the framework of a structured programme and excellent research conditions. Four cohorts of PhD students applied themselves to four broad themes within the space of the Eurasian landmass. Members of the first three cohorts were funded for three years but were eligible for extensions of up to six months when warranted. Members of the fourth cohort received funding for four years (subject to satisfactory progress). We strove to ensure equal representation of our three disciplines within each cohort.
One core aspect of ANARCHIE was the nature of its interdisciplinarity. Work outside established disciplinary boundaries requires an institutional framework that enables students to step back from their earlier training (usually a Master’s programme in one discipline). The first-year programme of ANARCHIE thus featured wide-ranging introductory courses covering theories and methods of the social and historical sciences. Students meanwhile worked intensively on their individual projects with their main supervisor. The projects were discussed collectively at Winter and Summer schools to which suitably qualified international experts were invited. The second year was largely devoted to data collection, which usually took the form of field research in the case of the social anthropologists, archival research in the case of the historians, and work at excavation sites and/or museum collections in the case of the archaeologists. The third year opened with an Autumn School at which progress reports were presented. Thereafter students prioritised the completion of their dissertations and the dissemination of results to a range of scientific audiences.
Detail concerning the successive cohorts and all activities of ANARCHIE can be gleaned from the following general reports of the Institute:
Postponed from December 2020 due to the pandemic, a final conference eventually took place in early July 2021 under the title Society and Morality in Eurasia: from Prehistory to the Present Day. Only residents of Halle were allowed to gather in the main seminar room. Other participants, including the three plenary lecturers, took part online. The transdisciplinary conversations extended over 7 panels and 18 papers. The meeting was a resounding culmination of the interdisciplinary exchanges and longue durée approaches that were the very foundations of ANARCHIE.
By early 2023, over 30 students had successfully defended their dissertations and more were in the pipeline. The final overall completion rate was expected to exceed 80%.
In the broader landscape of the Max Planck Society, ANARCHIE was a modest initiative. Our partners were almost all local. Yet far from being provincial and parochial, we were as convinced in 2021 as we had been decade earlier when launching ANARCHIE that this subject mix is full of promise, which should ultimately bear fruit on a larger scale. Social anthropological theory has much to contribute to the study of human origins and evolution (Barnard 2011). Empirical data from contemporary projects on the demise of socialist property relations or the expansion of neoliberal markets are pertinent to topics such as (in)equality in our species and the investigation of long-term social dynamics and comparative psychology. It is to be hoped that the formal conclusion of the ANARCHIE graduate school will not preclude future collaboration with other Max Planck institutes and excellent universities in this region of Germany.
Barnard, Alan. 2011. Social Anthropology and Human Origins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.