Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Halle (Saale), Germany

The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is located in Halle , Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 1999, and moved into new buildings 2001. It is one of 80 institutes in the Max Planck Society .Director of the Department of Integration and Conflict is Günther Schlee and of the Department of Socialist and Postsocialist Eurasiais Chris Hann. Wikipedia.

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Bochow A.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
The Social Life of Connectivity in Africa | Year: 2012

At the Central Market in Kumasi in Ghana I befriended two women, Auntie Emi and Sister Afia, both in their mid-thirties and living apart from their husbands who were in the United States. Auntie’s husband had left her soon after they got married and the birth of their now ten-year-old son. In the first two years, he sent money but then stopped doing so and she had heard nothing for five years. The two women expressed their longing for a new husband and a second child but were faced with the situation that, as married women, they could not go out in the evening for a beer without becoming the target of gossip. © Mirjam de Bruijn and Rijk van Dijk, 2012.

News Article | December 16, 2015

After civil war broke out in Syria, Mohammad Khamis lost his parents and his home — but not his dream of becoming a scientist. In July 2013, he boarded a flight from Damascus, where he had studied electrical engineering, to Egypt. In Alexandria, he paid traffickers about €5,000 (US$5,500) for a boat passage to Europe. The 9-day voyage to the Italian island of Lampedusa, on an unseaworthy sloop with 100 other desperate refugees, was a nightmare of fear, vomit and thirst. Two years later, Khamis, now 22, is attending classes in maths, physics and chemistry at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany, where he sought asylum in August 2013 and was last year accepted as a war refugee. “There is no future for me in Syria,” he says on a cold December day in Munich. “I would like to stay here to study and find a good research job. My dream is to discover something new.” Social scientists studying the flow of refugees into Germany want to discover something themselves: how many of the incoming people are, like Khamis, well-qualified, motivated and eager to learn — a boon for the economy. These migration researchers say that Germany has become a case study in the difficulties of suddenly integrating a large group of culturally diverse foreigners into a society; the nation has registered nearly one million asylum-seekers this year, more than half of them from Syria. It is the highest such influx in Western Europe. After a short-lived wave of hospitality in September, when chancellor Angela Merkel promised that Germany would be a welcoming host to the persecuted, many citizens and some right-leaning politicians have begun to voice concerns, painting a picture of a Muslim-dominated parallel society of poorly trained recipients of social welfare. Research may be able to counter the rising tide of xenophobia and aid the urgent process of resettling refugees by revealing more about migrants’ skills and cultural values, says David Schiefer, a Berlin-based psychologist with a German advisory body on migration and integration who is planning interviews with refugees. “We need to give these people a voice,” he says. With about half of the newcomers under 25 years of age, Germany’s higher-education and science systems have a particular obligation — and the well-funded capacity — to help, say researchers. “Science has a responsibility to help tackle the huge integration challenge ahead,” says Alexander Kurz, head of human resources at the Fraunhofer Society in Munich, which runs centres for applied research. “There is great readiness among our staff of 25,000 scientists from 100 nations to provide mentorship and practical help.” Reliable data on refugees’ qualifications and backgrounds are lacking. “We’re poking around in the fog,” says Ludger Wößmann, a director of the Ifo Center for the Economics of Education in Munich. International assessments of 15-year-olds suggest that up to two-thirds of Syrian refugee students might lack basic reading, writing and maths skills, he says. German industrial groups say that the large majority of migrants have minimal skills and poor language abilities, making them hardly employable. But these assumptions are ill-informed, says Steven Vertovec, director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen. In fact, the newcomers are probably as diverse as German society at large, he says. “There are many highly educated, secularized people among the Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans who are seeking asylum here.” Vertovec is leading a study in Lower Saxony in northern Germany that aims to interview asylum-seekers to examine their needs and aspirations, as well as to uncover best practices for responding to refugees. The goal is to produce practical guidelines for city workers and volunteer social workers in asylum-seeker camps on how to work with groups of migrants who may differ enormously in age, religion, language and education status. “Successful integration requires a nuanced understanding of migrants’ backgrounds and values,” he says. Students such as Khamis (who officially has ‘guest’ status at TUM; he is not yet formally enrolled in Germany’s university system) are not an uncommon sight in the country’s university lecture halls. TUM has about 100 guest students; across the country, there are a few thousand. To help universities to cope with the influx, the government in November approved an extra €100 million for student counselling, language training and stipends. On 11 December, Germany’s main research-funding agency, the DFG, encouraged grant holders to consider hiring refugee scientists in their research. DFG-funded scientists whose work would benefit from the participation of qualified academics or PhD students among the refugees are free to submit supplemental proposals for ‘guest funding’, said DFG president Peter Strohschneider. In a strategy paper seen by Nature, a group from seven Max Planck institutes, in response to a call for research ideas by the society’s president, Martin Stratmann, has outlined a variety of research needs around humanitarian migration, from international law and human-rights issues to health and gender studies. Marie-Claire Foblets, director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, plans to ask a culturally diverse group of refugees — including guest students at the University of Halle-Wittenberg — for accounts of their lives and experiences. Other questions, such as those concerning refugees’ citizenship and civil rights, the potential lure of extremism, and the fate of children who might be staying with radicalized parents, will require the involvement of law experts, criminologists, educators and others, she says. Khamis, for one, is happy to write up the story of his life for research. Having passed German-language tests, he hopes to enrol at the university next term as a regular student. “Germany has been good to me,” he says. “Now that my life can start again I do hope that I can give something back.”

Bochow A.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Culture, Health and Sexuality | Year: 2012

This paper recounts and reflects on conversations about love and sexuality conducted with young people in Kumasi and Endwa, Ghana. It examines the settings of these conversations - in a kinship-based household, secondary schools and Pentecostal churches - and explores young people's reticence to talk about such matters in the light of intergenerational respect. Analysing young people's strategies of silence and provocative speech, the paper shows that, paradoxically, schools and churches provide institutionalised spaces for young people's subversive outspokenness that contrasts with the ethical codex of decency as the expression of hierarchical relations. © 2012 Copyright Astrid Bochow.

Schwarcz G.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Journal of Rural Studies | Year: 2012

Rural poverty has become an increasingly ethnicised category for the majority society in contemporary Hungary. The article aims to explore the process and practice of social exclusion and ethnicisation in relation to mutual effects of post-socialist welfare restructuring and changing discourse on poverty in the post-socialist rural reality. The empirical data were gathered during ethnographic fieldwork carried out in a village in 2009 and 2010. Employing a relational, processual concept of ethnicity, this paper focuses on the ways in which the Magyar majority applies the approach of 'groupism' to imagine and discuss Roma as an ethnically bounded, distinctive group with a considerable set of distinguishable ethnic traits and degree of homogeneity. To point out how the discursive context influences social care and in what way the local implementation of social provision is able to formulate this context the paper deconstructs the local notion of 'Roma ethnic group' along with understandings of deservingness and social entitlement. It goes on to show the dual role that local state actors play in this process. The article concludes that both ideologies and practices of social care legitimise the identification of Roma as an ethnic category negatively equating this group with notions of deservingness and thus institutionalising ethnicised poverty. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Beyer J.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Central Asian Survey | Year: 2011

This article explores how the inhabitants of two villages in northern Kyrgyzstan relate to one another and to their environment in terms of both place and genealogy. By performing relatedness, people make claims upon a physical landscape, while their relationships are simultaneously shaped by perceptions of the particular place they live in. The term settling descent evokes this dialectic, in which people settle descent in a literal sense in rituals, statues, objects and the stories they tell about the past and the present. The often-repeated academic opposition of identity through kinship vs. identity through locality is resolved by showing how both are aspects of the same historical process. The paper draws on oral histories of key informants, ethnographic case studies and classical as well as recent literature on kinship, place, post-socialism and the anthropology of Central Asia. © 2011 Copyright Southseries Inc.

Jacquesson S.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Central Asian Survey | Year: 2010

The question of pastoral land use in colonial Central Asia is set against the goals and assumptions of present-day laws and regulations in Kyrgyzstan. In order to highlight the main choices of the colonial administration and their consequences on the local level the analysis is focused on three dyads: territorial divisions versus clan divisions, ownership versus administration and administration versus self-government. By pointing out that the colonial reforms on nomads were mainly driven by the phantoms of 'clans' and 'custom', this article argues that certain misconceptions of nomadism are characteristic of any modernization programmes, be they those of colonial Russia or those that are currently being implemented. In Kyrgyzstan the recently introduced 'grazing committees' as the main actors in the management and control of pastures perpetuate the myths of self-government and tradition among nomads. In conclusion the article advances the thesis that the reliance on 'custom' and 'tradition' and the dismissal of real social relations of pastoral land use are among the most important reasons for the failure of pastoral land reforms in the past and in the present. © 2010 Central Asian Survey.

Schroder P.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Central Asian Survey | Year: 2010

Within the context of Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, this article deals with an identity boundary between the so-called 'urban' Kyrgyz and Russians on the one side, and the so-called 'rural' or 'newly arriving' Kyrgyz, on the other. In the first section I discuss the ways in which this boundary is constructed among Bishkek male youth, both rhetorically as well as with regard to actual practices of social inclusion and exclusion. Starting from these insights on what 'makes' an urban identity, I try to approach the question of why this boundary might be drawn as it is. Linking a theory on 'group size' with migration data for Kyrgyzstan and the concept of 'opportunity structure', I try to examine the allocation and accessibility of opportunities such as jobs, marriage and living space - all of which can be considered to affect the current divide between ethnic Kyrgyz in Bishkek. © 2010 Central Asian Survey.

Jimenez-Tovar S.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Central Asian Survey | Year: 2016

This article shows different ways of defining, understanding and performing ‘diaspority’ in the border region of Kordai (Kazakhstan) and Tokmok (Kyrgyzstan). Taking the example of Dungan people, as the Sinophone Muslims are known in Central Asia, both academic and political definitions of the concept of ‘diaspora’ are compared. This ethnographic account problematizes Kazakhstani Shaanxi Dungan ‘diaspority’. Together with this, the political definitions of ‘diaspora’ are also analysed. I show that while in China and Kazakhstan the definitions of the Dungans as a ‘diaspora’ of ‘China’ are somewhat complementary, once the Shaanxi Dungan emic perspective is taken into account, this concept becomes rather problematic. The kinds of diaspority defined by the states involved are ways of implementing particular cultural hegemonies that legitimate the two political regimes analysed in this article. Concurrently, this dual diaspority is used by the Dungan people in distinct ways in defining their own identities. Nevertheless, I show in this article that the ‘Chinese card’ is not necessarily played by all Dungans. Moreover, there are some Dungans for whom ‘Chinese-ness’ is not even relevant. © 2016 Southseries Inc.

Pasieka A.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Journal of Rural Studies | Year: 2012

The aim of my paper is to discuss the phenomenon of nostalgia for socialism in rural Poland. More precisely, I discuss how experiences of rurality and diverse religious beliefs intertwine with nostalgia. Depicting the memories of socialism, shared with me by the inhabitants of a multi-religious rural commune in Southern Poland, I aim to demonstrate the ways in which day-to-day experiences of rural life as well as religious diversity contribute to shaping people's remembrances. In order to do so, I describe both the present situation and the historical experiences of the inhabitants of the commune. I introduce representatives of different Christian communities - Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Orthodox and Pentecostals - and, by presenting their life stories, I address the issue of how villagers' religious creeds interrelate with the memories and (re)evaluation of the socialist past. My aim here is twofold. Firstly I aim to deconstruct the nostalgia for socialism, showing its complexity and proving that this nostalgia means in fact longing for very concrete experiences of rural life. Secondly, I argue that the study of various religious beliefs and practices is very important for a fuller interpretation of nostalgic discourses and responses to postsocialist transformations. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Nakhshina M.,Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology | Nakhshina M.,Russian Academy of Sciences
Journal of Rural Studies | Year: 2012

Postsocialist transformations have changed resource values in many rural parts of Russia. On the Terskii Coast in the northwest of Russia, salmon has become a key resource for people's everyday survival. Management of this resource used to be heavily controlled by the state during the Soviet period. The situation changed radically after the collapse of Soviet rule, as fishing salmon individually became more easily available. Depending on whether they are local or come from elsewhere, people ascribe different values to local resources. Incomers tend to focus on a commercial meaning of salmon and have a more exploitative attitude to it compared to local people. While also ascribing high commercial value to salmon as a resource, local people attribute nonprofit meanings to salmon at the same time. The difference between the two groups reveals itself in people's attitudes to commercial fishing, and in their ways of sharing salmon with others. In this article I look at how place-related identity interplays with values attributed to salmon as people on the Terskii Coast manage this key local resource. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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