Power Struggles and Competing Visions around Paradigm Shift: Socio-Cultural Anthropology in Post-Communist Czechia

Petr Skalnik


The article critically analyses the last 30 years of sociocultural anthropology in post-communist Czechia. The author points out that in 1990 there was practically no sociocultural anthropology in the country. The transcendence of previous disciplines of nationgraphy and ethnography was complicated by many structural constraints and terminological confusion, German cultural influence, nationalism, dependency path of communism and the lack of a culture of contention. The beginnings and further development of sociocultural anthropology were marked by the competition with ethnology understood as a synonym of Volkskunde-type studies. First departments emerged outside of the capital city in Plzeň (Pilsen) and Pardubice. Debates eventually arrived. Some were existential, and others pertained to the status of the Roma as a cultural minority. The article shows the gradual growth of the discipline of Czech sociocultural anthropology in institutional, publication and international dimensions. Although Czech sociocultural anthropology established itself during the studied period as a respected social science discipline, it still will have to overcome the paradigmatic threshold of theoretical hesitancy marred by jockeying for  institutional power.

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