CfA: Workshop on Urban Anthropology for Early Career Scholars. Deadline: June 15

The Centre for Applied Anthropology

Understanding the City: Anthropology of Post-Socialist Transformations

Workshop on urban anthropology for early career scholars

Kyiv, Ukraine 3 − 4 October 2019

The Idea

The unprecedented growth of the urban population arouses interest to urban studies. This area becomes interdisciplinary while actively responding to the requests for expert knowledge about the city. This situation stimulates attention to the ethnographic methods and therefore, to urban anthropology with its ability to demonstrate the emic perspective and understand the wider cultural context relying on local urban cases.

Post-socialist cities are quite promising area for anthropological research. They possess their own cultural and social diversity, which attracts scholars from various fields of research. At the same time the voices of urban dwellers often remain neglected especially in the case of city planning and following brutal transformations of the landscape. We strive to look on the post-socialist cities as on spaces where experiences of living in various ideological and economic systems clash. The latter provokes ambiguous perceptions of urban planning decisions issued by the city government. Hence, we aim to focus on the way, how urban dwellers perceive transformations from above, reacting simultaneously from their grassroute level and having their own sense of social justice.

Transformations tend to change the common way of life and therefore are usually perceived by urban dwellers as a liminal condition between hopes for improvement and fears that situation will get worse. The attitude of city dwellers to initiatives from above depends primarily on what scenarios they encountered in the past. Besides, fear of something new may prove to be a fear of losing something meaningful for them from the old system. How to retrieve balance between all the discussed points? We propose to consider the perspectives of cultural anthropology to research the imageries about justice and “fair city” existing among urban dwellers, and the way how these imageries contradict with the city planning decisions inspired from above.

Themes to discuss (but not limited to):

  • anthropology of the city or anthropology in the city: in pursuit of interdisciplinary research points
  • challenges and ethical issues of post-socialist urban field
  • urban transformations through the lens of moral economy
  • grassroots democracy in terms of socialistic heritage
  • urban space and informal mechanisms of decision-making
  • injustice as an instrument for consolidation
  • post-socialist transformations and vulnerability of gender research
  • ecological factors in urban transformations

Expected results of the workshop

  • a deeper understanding of anthropological tools for its effective use in urban studies
  • an elaboration of strategies how to implement anthropological research in city planning
  • building a sustainable network between scholars engaged in urban studies
  • drawing attention of early career scholars, activists, volunteers, artists on the perspectives of anthropological research through the public discussion

The workshop will be held in two parts − academic and applied. Academic part will address the comprehension of the theoretical background of urban anthropology and a discussion of field research in post-socialistic cities. In the frames of academic section, the presentations in panels will be held. The applied section will be featured in the form of roundtable “Anthropology in applied urban studies”. Its aim is to encourage into a public discussion researchers and those social actors who are directly engaged in various transformations of urban space (experts, activists, artists, volunteers). The discussion is supposed to spread the knowledge about anthropological tools in urban studies and its practical implementation in city’s transformations. We plan to discuss a number of the following questions:

  • a research for urban planning: methodological traditions and current challenges
  • anthropological tools and the sphere of its implementation in urban studies
  • academic and artistic understanding of the city
  • engagement of local urban communities in research work


The target group encompasses early career scholars (Master and PhD students, Post-docs). The event is envisaged for 4 panels (12 participants), 4 discussants and 1 lecturer-key-note speaker.

Each participant will give a 20-minute presentation (PowerPoint or Prezi presentation in English is obligatory, even if the language of your talk will be Ukrainian), followed by commentary by an invited discussant (20 minutes) and open discussion (30 minutes).

The working languages of the workshop are English and Ukrainian.

LogisticsThe costs of travel to Kyiv (economy) and three nights of accommodation are expected to be covered

Proposals: Please submit a brief CV with your contact details (max. 3 pages) and a 300-word proposal to e-mail: by 15 June 2019. Notification of acceptance will be given by 1 July 2019. All documents should be submitted as a single PDF file. Please, note that partial participation won’t be considered.