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Author Topic: Name Change?
soyuz
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Post Name Change?
on: January 16, 2012, 22:03
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At the recent American Anthropological Association meetings, the possibility of changing the name of Soyuz was raised. Members expressed interest in choosing a name that could include other regions and better reflects the direction that members would like Soyuz to take. Please use these forums to suggest and discuss possible name changes.

kverdery
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 5, 2012, 20:55
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At the risk of institutionalizing a term that may be about to end, how about Socialist and Postsocialist Studies, a slight shortening of the series with Cornell Press that Grant and Ries edited? We could then call it SaPS, which has its virtues, not least as a description of many of us members?...
Katherine Verdery

David H.-
Lempert
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 20, 2012, 06:21
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I suggest that any new name reflect actual ANTHROPOLOGICAL concepts of culture rather than political or ideological concepts based on Cold War labeling of political alliances and enemies. Unless we want to have "Post Fascist Cultural Studies" (and maybe "Emerging Fascist Cultural Studies"), it would be best to have a name that reflects how anthropologists actually define and distinguish the 6,000 cultures on our planet, rather than on how militaries and politicians classify them so that the cultures we study together have a logic that fits our discipline rather than outside labels. :D

Though I can't speak for other members, I am an anthropologist and study culture (usually defined by markers like language and adaptation to environments, in solidarity with linguists and archaeologists) rather than an ideologue or theologian (e.g., contemporary political "scientist" or "economist") or glorified journalist (like many who call themselves "anthropologists" today). I am opposed to classifying objects of study as to whether they were "Former Enemies of U.S. and European Elites" and whether my funding comes from those elites and perpetuates their labels rather than the long-standing principles of the discipline (which is what the current name of the group implies).

An appropriate anthropological name would be: "Studies of Russian Imperial Cultural Influence in the 20th Century and Beyond" since we are really talking about countries and cultures linked by Russian imperialism, not about "socialism" (which never really existed anyway other than as a theology). The appropriate subject of study is on Russian imperial influence and how it worked as well as how it dissipates, as a way to understand processes of culture change. This is also appropriate because there was a very clear continuity in the Russian empire before 1918 and after, which anthropological study clearly revealed and the "other" non-anthropological disciplines all denied as dogma. I am for confirming the fundamentals of our discipline rather than denying them as those other failed "disciplines" did, by suggesting that an ideology is a culture or that it creates a cultural break.

But if others in this group do not really wish to follow the discipline of anthropology, then I suggest the name be clearer rather than euphemistically using the current "religious" terms that no one can define, like "socialism" or that is constantly mis-defined. Since "socialism" was just a euphemism for "the other", outside of "our" military or trading hegemony, maybe the title should be "Former U.S. and European Elite Enemy Cultural Studies" which would clearly fit the current subjects of study, yes? And it would create clarity with the emerging area of "Current Global Elite Enemy Studies" which is better than just "Muslim Studies" that also tries to group the world by ideologies/religions, since it includes not just countries with oil resources but other cultures that have resources and are targeted for their resources.

David
David Lempert, Ph.D., J.D., M.B.A., E.D. (Hon.)
Author of: "Daily Life in a Crumbling Empire: The Absorption of Russia into the World Economy", 1995, Columbia University Press, an ethnography in 2-volumes
Currently working in Lao P.D.R. a country of the Tai-Lao, Mon-Khmu, and several other cultures that have been influenced by the Russian empire and many others and where the word "post-socialist" applied to any of them or their neighbors is ideological nonsense from a war that ended 20 years ago

xnxx, btjunkie, games

games, btjunkie, games

Adam Leeds
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 20, 2012, 06:30
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Damn David, very prickly. And, is this really a crowd that will accept you trying to impose a bunch of your own theoretical and narrative commitments just because you've told us we're not using appropriate notions of culture if we don't?

Adam Leeds
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 20, 2012, 06:36
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I vote for maintaining the current name. It is kind of catchy, being one word and not in English, and I do think it captures the diversity of our membership. It just means "union" after all! Is the worry that it is in Russian, and we don't all study Russia or the ex-USSR? I might argue that the experience of the USSR is crucial to the study of (post-)socialisms in any part of the world, but even leaving that completely to the side, how about just the argument that it sounds kind of snappy? And I like the current subtitle too, it is about as widely embracing as you can get, but if Katherine Verdey's suggestion for the title were to be the subtitle, I couldn't argue with it.

Joe Long
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 20, 2012, 09:20
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I think Soyuz is catchy, but I understand why those not working in the former USSR might find it alienating.

If we are to lose it I would argue for having a regional indicator in there somewhere – perhaps ‘post-socialist Eurasia’, because most of us have come together through studying a region strongly influenced by socialism as a geopolitical entity – albeit one that reaches from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia. Those of us working in the middle of that landmass have no other regional representation in AAA sections, and whilst the region that we study has been strongly shaped by the geopolitics of twentieth century socialism, most of us also deal with historical phenomena and cultural legacies that pre-date socialism, so a regional mention, however broad, would be useful.

I would also argue for ‘anthropology’ or ‘sociocultural studies’ rather than just ‘cultural studies’. Cultural Studies has a particular and distinct disciplinary history in Europe and indeed ‘culture’ sometimes has a more limited resonance in Slavic languages. I think we need to reflect our concern with the way social, economic and political forces are played out in cultural phenomena, and our disciplinary identity.

Network for the anthropology of post-socialist Eurasia?

Sociocultural studies of post-socialist Eurasia?

Hmm, neither as snappy as the current name. Just a few thoughts, anyhow.

Ememqut
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 20, 2012, 10:17
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While Soyuz has moved its website to aaanet.org and this forum is located in the AAA bit of WordPress, Soyuz has always been more than just anthropology. I haven't attended a Soyuz conference since moving to Europe in 2001, but in the 1990s, it was very much about 'cultural studies', and that term refers to a similar set of disciplinary practices on both sides of the Atlantic. Americans read Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams, too.

I think that Prof. Verdery's suggestion is helpful in that it preserves a disciplinary-agnostic title that can welcome historians, literary critics, film studies, geographers, and other scholars working outsides the tiny, tiny discipline of anthropology. It also abandons the geographical focus that originated with Soyuz in the early 1990s--people working on the xSSR and EE.

Do we want to abandon an implicit reference to Eurasia? Maybe. I'm not sure, to be honest. However, I disagree with Dr. Lembert's insistence that what we study is the legacy of Russian imperial power and influence. I don't think that is necessarily the case with SaPS work comparing contemporary farmers in Ukraine, China and Vietnam. Russia is important, but not necessarily as important as common structures of socialist governance and economic organization.

Alexander D. King, Senior Lecture in Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
www.koryaks.net

Joe Long
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 20, 2012, 10:52
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Fair points.

Just to clarify - I am definitely not one of those Brit Anthropologists that felt threatened by the rise of Cultural Studies, and I also draw on that body of work. My thinking was to broaden, rather than narrow, the definition of what we do. But I can see how explicit reference to anthropology might shut down the possibility of more interdisciplinary discussions, particularly as Soyuz also meets at the AAASS meetings. I would, however, want to be as open to political scientists and economists as film critics and literary theorists.

SCohen
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 20, 2012, 19:51
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Just to chime in here. I do think that broadening our base and our membership is what we want to do rather than restricting. This is part of the rationale for not including explicit references to anthropology as well as to Eurasia (or how we might otherwise want to designate the region where many Soyuz members work.) Incidentally, if we do continue to apply for section status, a regional name would probably be seen as conflicting with SAE. Socialist and Postsocialist Studies feels on the right track, though, to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about calling ourselves "SaPS."

Erin Koch
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Post Re: Name Change?
on: February 20, 2012, 20:29
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A couple of points of clarification. First, one of the main concerns that former officers brought to the table when they raised this issue with me, and that respondents raised in last year's survey, was that they felt the name no longer captured the diversity of places where members are located institutionally, and where they conduct research (Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, etc.). As far as I understand those comments, this is not because there is something "wrong" with using a Russian term or that people are necessarily putting forth a Soviet interpretation. Instead, the concern is that as the group has grown and diversified over time, the current name is somewhat exclusionary. This seems somewhat problematic given the meaning of the word soyuz (unity). Second, it seems worth noting that the listserv membership consists of people working in a variety of academic disciplines and research arenas, not just anthropologists. The same might be true of of the AAA Interest Group, but that seems unlikely given the high cost of professional association membership fees these days.

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