Conflicts in Eurasia: Globalization, New States, and Soviet Legacies

Winter 2008, MWF (C Hour)

Dr. Sascha L. Goluboff

Office Hours: MWF B and C Hour, and by appointment

You can find me at and in Newcomb Hall, 36E (Third Floor) (phone: 458-8807)


Course Description

In this class, we will study how people in Eurasia relate to new realities through common past socialist experiences and interactions with globalization, transnational movements, and the world market. We will apply anthropology and a wide range of other disciplinary techniques to understand and attempt to solve current problems in Eurasia. We will have an ongoing conversation about the differences and similarities, advantages and disadvantages of various disciplinary approaches. Topics will include crime, the emerging marketplace, nation-state formation, poverty, health, gender, environment, and war. We will study Eurasia via issues rather than geography. Daily readings will be interdisciplinary, featuring anthropology along with political science, journalism, history, sociology, literature, economics, and religious studies, depending on the topic. Students will take their thinking across disciplines even further by engaging in a semester long project. Students will evaluate how to use anthropology, with at least one other approach, to understand and recommend ways to solve a specific policy dilemma in Eurasia that corresponds to their majors and/or research interests. Examples include, but are not limited to the following: attaining social justice in Russia, cleaning up environmental destruction at Lake Baikal, eliminating political corruption in Georgia, alleviating poverty in Ukraine, or improving human rights in Uzbekistan. While this will be an individual research paper, students will search for sources with others who have similar topics, and they will present their work together to the class.


Course Outcomes
By the end of this course, students will be able to
1. Define and explain how people in Eurasia relate to new realities through common past socialist experiences and interactions with globalization, transnational movements, and the world market.
2. Apply anthropological theories and a wide range of other disciplinary techniques to understand and attempt to solve current problems in Eurasia.
3. Assess the differences and similarities, advantages and disadvantages, of various disciplinary approaches.
4. Demonstrate how to use anthropology, with at least one other approach, to understand and recommend ways to solve a specific policy dilemma in Eurasia that corresponds to their majors.


Course Texts

A Course Pack (with the majority of readings) can be purchased from Karen Lyle, the department's administrative assistant. Her office is on the first floor of Newcomb Hall. Select readings will also be posed on the L drive in the folder for this course.


Class Organization
This class will be run as a seminar, organized around thematic discussions of the day's readings. The professor's role is to guide class sessions and help you to understand the major points and theoretical issues. Your participation is crucial. You must have all the readings done on time. You will be responsible  for leading discussion at least once about a certain reading, and when it is not your turn, you will be expected to raise important and insightful issues. To help you accomplish these objectives, each discussion leader will bring in at least 3 questions about your piece to be discussed, and all the other students will bring in one question about any of the day's assignments. Please bring two copies -- one for you, and one for the professor to collect at the beginning of class. These questions will count toward your participation grade.


Writing Requirements

You will do an independent research project. You will evaluate how to use anthropology, with at least one other approach, to understand and recommend ways to solve a specific policy dilemma in Eurasia that corresponds to your major and/or research interests. You will rely heavily on search engines to find the latest information on your topic. Dick Grefe, the reference librarian, created a website specifically for this project to help you identify research topics and find sources.  The research website for the course can be accessed here at The research paper is broken down into smaller assignments due in class: research topic, draft bibliography, paper draft to be peer reviewed, first page of revised paper draft, presentation, and final paper. Each time you turn in an assignment, please include the previous ones as well so that I can see how you are progressing. I will place you in groups according to your topic. Group members will help each other identify resources on the web and in the library, aid in working on paper drafts, and present research results together in class.


Specifications for Written Work

Assignment evaluation: I will evaluate your assignments on the following criteria: following directions, thoroughness, conventions of grammar and spelling, originality, forethought and execution, and style of presentation. All assignments must be typed unless otherwise noted. FYI: I encourage (and will reward) you to “go out on a limb” with a new idea or challenging statement. Be creative!


I will grade your in-class presentation based on the above paragraph, how well you and your partner coordinate your efforts, and the substance of each individual contribution.


Lateness of papers: To get full credit, all assignments must be handed in at the end of the class period unless otherwise indicated by me. You must notify me at least one week in advance if you are requesting to turn in an assignment late. If I agree to accept the late paper, it will be penalized at the rate of half a grade a day. For instance, a B paper turned in 2 days late becomes a C+. No exceptions without an infirmary excuse or a letter from the Dean. A computer problem does not make a legitimate excuse for lateness.


Please! Keep a hard copy of every assignment. Do not trust your disk, hard drive, or neighbor’s hard drive, or any W&L server as a backup. If I should misplace a paper, I will require you to give me another copy immediately upon request.


Format: Proper grammar, spelling, in-text citation, and style count. If you need guidance, click here to see my website for tips on grammar and citations.


Note: Handing in your draft late will negatively affect the grade you receive on your final paper.



FYI: If you miss more than three classes and/or are late more than three times, a reduction in your final grade is up to my discretion.


Class Participation

Class participation includes actively taking part in class discussions, turning in your reading questions on time, and quiz grades.


Your Grade Will Be Based on the Following:

Class participation 30%
Small assignments leading up to final paper 10%
Group presentation in class 20%
Final paper 40%


How to Succeed in This Course
Read all the materials on time.

Be prepared to participate in class, and participate often.

Take advantage of office hours to consult about your assignments.

Be aware of and follow the attendance policy, writing requirements, and specifications for written work.


Class Schedule


Monday 1/7: No Class 


Wednesday 1/9: Introduction to the Course


Friday 1/11: What Was Socialism, Why Did It Fall, and What Comes Next?

Katherine Verdery (1995), “What Was Socialism, and Why Did It Fall?” Beyond Soviet Studies, edited by Daniel Orlovsky. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press. Pp. 27-47. (Anthropology)

Alexei Yurchak (2003), “Soviet Hegemony of Form: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More.” Society for Comparative Study of Society and History 25(3):480-510.(Anthropology)

Mark Kramer (2004), “The Reform of the Soviet System and the Demise of the Soviet State.” Slavic Review 63(3):505-512. (Politics)


Monday 1/14: Ethnographic and Interdisciplinary Methods, Theories, and Applications

Sascha L. Goluboff (2003), “Fistfights at Morning Services.” In Jewish Russians: Upheavals in a Moscow Synagogue. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Pp.34-62. (Anthropology)

Julie Thompson Klein (1996), “Introduction: Interdisciplinary Claims” Crossing Boundaries: Knowledge, Disciplinarities, and Interdisciplinarities. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. Pp. 1-15. (Interdisciplinary)

Recent article on anthropologists as consultants. (Journalism)


Wednesday 1/16: Putin’s Russia
Bettina Renz (2006), “Putin’s Militocracy? An Alternative Interpretation of Siloviki in Contemporary Russian Politics.” Europe-Asia Studies 58(6):903-924 (Sociology)

Alena Ledeneva (2006), “Chapter Two: Chernyi Piar: Manipulative Campaigning and the Workings of Russian Democracy.” In How Russia Really Works: The Informal Practices that Shaped Post-Soviet Politics and Business. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. (Anthropology)

Recent news article about Putin. (Journalism)


Friday 1/18: Everyday Corruption
Michele Rivkin-Fish "Bribes, Gifts, and Unofficial Payments: Towards an Anthropology of Corruption in Post-Soviet Russia." In Corruption: Anthropological Perspectives, edited by Cris Shore and Dieter Haer. (Anthropology)

Birdsall, Karen (2000), “‘Everyday Crime’ at the Workplace: Covert Earning Schemes in Russia’s New Commercial Sector.” In Economic Crime in Russia, edited by Alena V. Ledeneva and Marina Kurkchiyan. Pp. 145-162. (Sociology)

Murat Cokgezen (2004), “Corruption in Kyrgyzstan: The Facts, Causes, and Consequences.” Central Asian Survey 23(1):79-94 (Economics)


Monday 1/21: Organized Crime
Nancy Ries (2002), “‘Honest Bandits’ and ‘Warped People’: Russian Narratives about Money, Corruption, and Moral Decay.” In Ethnography in Unstable Places: Everyday Lives in Contexts of Dramatic Political Change, edited by Carol J. Greenhouse, Elizabeth Mertz, and Kay B. Warren. Durham: Duke University Press. Pp. 276-315. (Anthropology)

Caroline Humphrey (2002), “Chapter Five: Russian Protection Rackets and the Appropriation of Law and Order.” In The Unmaking of Soviet Life: Everyday Economies after Socialism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. (Anthropology)

Johan Engvall (2006), “The State under Siege: The Drug Trade and Organized Crime in Tajikistan.” Europe-Asia Studies 58(6):827-854.


Wednesday 1/23: Building Civil Society in Russia and Ukraine

Sarah D. Philips (2005), “Civil Society and Healing: Theorizing Women’s Social Activism in Post-Soviet Ukraine.” Ethos 70(4):489-514. (Anthropology)

Julie Hemment (2007), “Chapter 2: Querying Democratization: Civil Society, International Aid, and the Riddle of the Third Sector.” In Empowering Women in Russia: Activism, Aid, and NGOs. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (Anthropology)

Vladimir Shlapentokh (2006), “Trust in Public Institutions in Russia: The Lowest in the World.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 39:153-174. (Sociology)


Friday 1/25: No Class, Mock Convention


Monday 1/28: Re-Traditionalization of Post-Soviet Society
Film in Class: Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

Due in Class: Topic of Individual Research Project


Wednesday 1/30: Re-Traditionalization of Post-Soviet Society
Cynthia Werner (2004), “Women, Marriage, and the Nation-State: The Rise of Nonconsensual Bride Kidnapping in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan.” In The Transformation of Central Asia: States and Societies from Soviet Rule to Independence, edited by Pauline Jones Luong. Pp. 59-89. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. (Anthropology)


Friday 2/1: Instead of regular class, you will meet with me in your groups to talk about individual research project topics and bibliographic resources.


Monday 2/4: Building Civil Society in Central Asia

John R. Pottenger (2004), “Civil Society, Religious Freedom, and Islam Karimov: Uzbekistan’s Struggle for a Decent Society.” Central Asian Survey 23(1):55-77.  (Politics)
Meghan Simpson (2006), “Local Strategies in Globalizing Gender Politics: Women’s Organizing in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 26(1):9-31. (Politics)

Edward Snajdr (2005) "Gender, Power, and the Performance of Justice: Muslim Women's Responses to Domestic Violence in Kazakhstan." American Ethnologist 32(2):294-311. (Anthropology)


Wednesday 2/6: Borders and Homelands

Robert Kaiser and Elena Nikiforova “Borderland Spaces of Identification and Dis/Location: Multiscalar Narratives and Enactments of Seto Identity and Place in the Estonian-Russian Borderlands.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 29(5):928-958. (Geography)

Mathjis Pelkmans (2006), “Chapter 1: Caught Between States.” In Defending the Border” Identity, Religin, and Modernity in the Republic of Georgia. (Anthropology)
Sascha Goluboff (forthcoming), “Communities of Mourning: Mountain Jewish Laments in Azerbaijan and on the Internet.”  (Anthropology)


Friday 2/8: Monuments of Power and Change

Bruce Grant (2001) "New Moscow Monuments, or, States of Innocence." American Ethnologist 28(2): 332-362. (Anthropology)

Stuart Burch and David J. Smith (2007), “Empty Spaces and the Value of Symbols: Estonia’s ‘War of Monuments’ from Another Angle.” Europe-Asia Studies 59(6):913-936. (Politics)
Robert J. Kaiser, “Estonia” The Mouse that Roared?” Accessed on the SSRC website. (Geography)


Monday 2/11: Revolutions

Paul Manning (2007), “Rose-Colored Glasses? Color Revolutions and Cartoon Chaos in Postsocialist Georgia.” Cultural Anthropology 22(2):171-213. (Anthropology)

Theodor Tudoroiu (2007), “Rose, Orange, and Tulip: The Failed Post-Soviet Revolutions.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 40:315-342. (Politics)

Recent news article about Georgia. (Journalism)


Wednesday 2/13: Negotiating the Market Place

Galina Lindquist (2000), “In Search of The Magical Flow: Magic and Market in Contemporary Russia.” Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development 29(4): 315-337. (Anthropology)

Alena Ledeneva (2006), “Chapter Six: Dvoinaia Bukhgalteriia: Double Accountancy and Financial Scheming.” In How Russia Really Works: The Informal Practices that Shaped Post-Soviet Politics and Business. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. (Anthropology)

Ruta Aidis and Tomasz Mickiewicz (2006), “Entrepreneurs, Expectations and Business Expansion: Lessons from Lithuania.” Europe-Asia Studies 58(6):855-880. (Economics)


Friday 2/15: Consumption, Morality, and the State
Melissa L. Caldwell (2002), “The Taste of Nationalism: Food Politics in Postsocialist Moscow.” Ethnos 67(3): 295-319. (Anthropology)

Catherine Wanner (2005), “Money, Morality and New Forms of Exchange in Post-Socialist Ukraine.” Ethos 70(4):515-537. (Anthropology)

Jennifer Patico (2005), “To Be Happy in a Mercedes: Tropes of Value and Ambivalent Visions of Marketization.” American Ethnologist 32(3):479-496. (Anthropology)


2/18-2/22: No Class, Washington Break


Monday 2/25: Poverty
Melissa Caldwell (2004), “Chapter 6: The Mythology of Hunger.” In Not by Bread Alone: Social Support in the New Russia. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Anthropology)

Elizabeth Gomart, “Between Civil War and Land Reform: Among the Poorest of the Poor in Tajikistan.” In When Things Fall Apart: Qualitative Studies of Poverty in the Former Soviet Union. Edited by Nora Dudwick et al. Washington, DC: World Bank. (Anthropology)

Sergei Shubin (2007), “Networked Poverty in Rural Russia.” Europe-Asia Studies 59(4):591-620. (Geography)


Wednesday 2/27: Homelessness
Svetlana Stephenson (2006), “Chapter 2: Street Society,” “Chapter 6, Homeless in Post-Soviet Russia,” and Chapter 7: Displacement and Paths into Homelessness.” In Crossing the Line: Vagrancy, Homelessness and Social Displacement in Russia. Hampshire: Ashgate. (Sociology)


Friday 2/29 Leisure: Addictions and Distractions
Elena Omel’chenko (2006), “‘You Can Tell by the Way They Talk’: Analyzing the Language Young People in Russia Use to Talk about Drugs.” Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 22(1):54-72. (Sociology)

Dancing with the Demon Drink: Drinking Cultures in Russia. Kultura 7-8 (2006) (Interdisciplinary)

Spaces of Creativity: Excursions into the Realm of Leisure in Russia. Kultura 1 (2007) (Interdisciplinary)


Monday 3/2: Demographic Crisis  
Cynthia Gabriel (2003), “The Effects of Perceiving ‘Weak Health’ in Russia” The Case of Breastfeeding.” Anthropology of East Europe Review 21(1). (Anthropology)

Michele Rivkin-Fish (2004) “'Change Yourself and the Whole World Will Become Kinder': Russian Activists for Reproductive Health and the Limits of Claims Making for Women." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 18(3):281-304. (Anthropology)

Cynthia Buckley, J.B. Barrett, and Y.P. Asminkin (2004), “Reproductive and Sexual Health among Young Adults in Uzbekistan.” Studies in Family Planning 35(1):1-14. (Sociology)


Wednesday 3/5: Manhood in Trouble
Rebecca Kay and Maxim Kostenko (2006), “Men in Crisis or in Critical Need of Support? Insights from Russia and the UK.” Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 22(1):90-114. (Sociology)

Rebecca Kay (2006), “Chapter 5: ‘I Couldn’t Live without My Kids’: Fatherhood as a Contested Identity” and “Chapter 6: ‘A Woman Has a Right to Expect Certain Conditions’: Personal Relationships between Men and Women.” In Men in Contemporary Russia: The Fallen Heroes of Post-Soviet Change. Aldershot: Ashgate. (Sociology)


Friday 3/7: Searching for Love Abroad
Film in Class: In the Name of Love

Due in Class: Draft of Individual Research Bibliography 


Monday 3/10: Deadly Environmental Legacies

Sarah Phillips (2002), “Half-Lives and Healthy Bodies: Discourses on ‘Contaminated” Food and Healing in Post-Chernobyl Ukraine.” Food and Foodways 10:27-53. (Anthropology)

Adriana Petryna (2002), “Chapter 5: Biological Citizenship.” In Life Exposed: Biological Citizens after Chernobyl. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Anthropology)

Kopecky et al. (2006), “Childhood Thyroid Cancer, Radiation Dose from Chernobyl, and Dose Uncertainties in Bryansk Oblast, Russia: A Population-Based Case-Control Study.” Radiation Research 166:367-374. (Science and Medicine)


Wednesday 3/12: Diagnosing and Healing Illness

Galina Lindquist (2002), “Healing Efficacy and the Construction of Charisma. A Family’s Journey over the Multiple Medical System in Russia.” Anthropology and Medicine, Special Issue. Countervailing Creativity: Patient Agency in the Globalization of Asian Medicines 9(3):337-358. (Anthropology)

Marjorie Balzer (2005), “Shamanic Healing as a Multivocal Process.” World Congress Invited Papers: “Health Challenges of the Third Millennium.” International Forum for Social Sciences and Health. (Anthropology)

Erin Koch (2006), “Beyond Suspicion: Evidence, (Un)Certainty, and Tuberculosis in Georgian Prisons. American Ethnologist 33(1):50-62. (Anthropology)


Friday 3/14: Religious Revival and Competition

Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer (2005), “Whose Steeple is Higher? Religious Competition in Siberia.” Religion, State & Society 33(1): 57-69. (Anthropology)

Emily B. Baran (2006), “Negotiating the Limits of Religious Pluralism in Post-Soviet Russia: The Anticult Movement in the Russian Orthodox Church, 1990-2004.” The Russian Review 65:637-656. (History)

Catherine Wanner (2004), “Missionaries of Faith and Culture: Evangelical Encounters in Ukraine.” Slavic Review 63(4):732-755. (Anthropology)


Monday 3/17: Islamic Revival

“The Islamic Revival in Russia.” Kultura 9 (2006) (Religious Studies, Interdisciplinary)

Farideh Heyat (2004), “Re-Islamisation in Kyrgyzstan: Gender, New Poverty, and the Moral Dimension.” Central Asian Survey 23(3-4):275-287. (Anthropology)

Habiba Fathi (2006), “Gender, Islam, and Social Change in Uzbekistan.” Central Asian Survey 25(3):303-317. (Religious Studies)


Wednesday 3/19: Military Russia
Melissa Stockdale (2006), “United in Gratitude: Honoring Soldiers and Defining the Nation in Russia’s Great War.” Kritika 7(3):459-485. (History)

Rebecca Kay (2006), “Military Service: Rite of Passage or Waste of Time?” In Men in Contemporary Russia: The Fallen Heroes of Post-Soviet Change. Aldershot: Ashgate. (Sociology)


Friday 3/21: Russian Soldiers in Chechnya I
Movie in class: The Betrayed


Monday 3/24: Russian Soldiers in Chechnya II
Serguei Alex. Oushakine (2006), “The Poltics of Pity: Domesticating Loss in a Russian Province.” American Anthropologist 108(2):297-311 (Anthropology)


Wednesday 3/26: Due in class: Draft of paper to give to peer reviewer. Peer Review Done in Class.


Friday 3/28: Chechnya
Anna Brodsky, Handout of Latest Publication on Chechnya. (Literature)

Guest Lecture: Anna Brodsky to speak in class

Due in class: First page of REVISED draft paper 


Monday 3/31: Chechnya

Francine Banner (2006), “Uncivil Wars: ‘Suicide Bomber Identity’ as a Product of Russo-Chechen Conflict.” Religion, State, & Society 34(3):215-253. (Anthropology)

John Russell (2006), “Obstacles to Peace in Chechnya: What Scope for International Involvement.” Europe-Asia Studies 58(6):941-964. (Politics)


Wednesday 4/2: Student Presentations


Friday 4/4: Student Presentations


Monday 4/7: Final draft of research paper due in my mailbox at NOON.