The Discipline of Sociocultural Anthropology vis-à-vis Politics of Identity in Lithuania

Vytis Čiubrinskas (Vytautas Magnus University)

The presentation identifies the factors of development of the discipline of sociocultural anthropology in Lithuania by defining its field and scope of research and instruction.  The author pays specific attention to actual disciplinary developments of anthropology, how it is rooted and/or shaped by the institutional and methodological policies as well as influenced by the dominant discourses and identity politics.

Sociocultural  anthropology in Lithuania is seen as a  “product of Westernization”, which in most cases came to the region through the post-socialist change, as postcolonial and cosmopolitan study of the global human condition in comparative and holistic perspectives. Eventually it is a discipline which has challenged the ‘natural’ order of the established social sciences and humanities. Its strong emphasis on cultural relativism also implied politics of identity beyond nationalism and Occidentalism.

Occasionally noticeable xenophobic and arrogant attitudes towards sociocultural anthropology in Lithuania are rooted in the general perception that ‘culture’ is an intellectual achievement and also in confusion with national ‘ethnic culture’ (Vastokas 2005).   National ‘home bred’ ethnology challenges ‘cosmopolitan’ anthropology by pretending to be an expert on “own culture” thus the latter is supposed to do research on ‘the other’.

So in this case the issue of ‘anthropology at home’ becomes the most challenging phenomenon in the academic fields still governed by the politics of national identity.

Keyword: Ciubrinskas

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