Taking Park's postulate of a 'marginal man' as its starting point, this essay reviews some of the key ideas and approaches that have underpinned the development of the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures from its inception. It concentrates on a discussion of the concept of 'cultures' - liminal, hybrid or otherwise - in different contexts and from different perspectives - boundaries and frontiers, places and spaces, migrants and memory - before turning towards the question of what and where Europe is, and what anthropology might have to say on it, concluding with reflections on AJEC's past, present and future contribution. An appendix provides details of the first twenty-one volumes of the journal.
Recollections of an Intercultural Wanderer
Fieldpaths Towards an Eco-anthropology
Arguably, anthropologists have studied the relationship of ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ for a long time and from a broad range of perspectives. The close thematic connections between anthropology and ecology reach back well beyond Ernst Haeckel’s postulate of ecology as a distinct science in the 1860s. Social historians (e.g. Brunner 1956) have noted how the ‘old European economy’ of ‘the whole house’, where ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ were regarded as closely intertwined, has been replaced in the course of industrialisation and modernisation by increasing perceptual separation and indeed juxtaposition of the two spheres. In a sense, the culmination of that movement may be seen, for example, in the progressive ousting of an integrative Heimatkunde – the holistic study of localities and regions – from the German school curriculum since the 1960s.
Welcome to issue one of AJEC’s volume 21. In German, a ‘volume’ of a journal is referred to as a Jahrgang – a year (group), a cohort; when I was in my teens, a cohort still used to achieve ‘majority’ – and be considered ‘grown up’, ‘mature’ – with the completion of its 21st year. So as AJEC approached the completion of its second decade and ideas for marking the occasion were considered, I suggested to the board that we might celebrate the journal’s coming-of-age (as it would have been counted when its founders and subsequent editors were growing up) instead of the more common round figure jubilees. Unlike governments the world over, who decided for pop-cultural or other reasons that 1999 years make two complete lots of 1,000, we at AJEC know that the 21st year is completed at its end, not at its beginning, and so the special issue reflecting on the journey so far will be issue two, published at the end of this year.
The previous issue of AJEC had ‘Ethnological Approaches to Cultural Heritages’ as its theme. As that issue was being produced, the Société Internationale d’Ethnologie et de Folklore (SIEF) held its 9th Congress, entitled ‘Transcending European Heritages: Liberating the Ethnological Imagination’, at the University of Ulster during the week 16–20 June, 2008 (see Fenske 2008 for details). This offered an opportunity to explore our theme further, and therefore the plenary speakers at that congress, representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds and approaches, nationalities and intellectual biographies, were invited to submit their texts for the present issue.
With this issue, AJEC returns to its original format as a journal with, for the time being, two issues per year. When the first issue was published in 1990 by the European Centre for Traditional and Regional Cultures (ECTARC), Europe was a different place. As the director of ECTARC, Franz-Josef Stummann (1990: 7), explained in his introduction to that issue, the ‘magical date of 1992’, heralding the Single European Market as a significant step towards European integration, had ‘a substantial bearing’ on the foundation of the journal. Moreover, the Berlin Wall, symbol of the political divide that cut right through Cold War Europe, had crumbled the previous year. German unification was imminent, but very little else seemed predictable. Eighteen years and two Gulf Wars later, not only has the European Union acquired fifteen new member states, ten of them former Communist countries, but we have also been told to perceive a new divide – between a ‘new’ Europe and an ‘old’ one.
Tradition, Ecology and the Public Role of Ethnology
The folk, who have been exorcised from contemporary academic concern, are now replaced with the populace. Simultaneously, places as ecological loci of meaning and social relations have been discarded in favour of globalised spaces. Arguably, the contemporary obsession with proving the inauthenticity of tradition is itself an essentialising discourse. This obsession has helped destroy places and their ecological relationships. European ethnology originated in the Enlightenment pursuit of good governance and social improvement, which rendered it an instrument of political control - putting the folk in their place. By critically reconstructing the public role of ethnology, we can redirect the ethnological searchlight. Should not the responsible ethnologist, rather than colluding in evictions of the folk from their place, cultivate a respectfully critical understanding of social, economic, political and ecological contexts, working with the folk reflexively, to help reclaim their place.
As I settle down to put together this issue, it occurs to me that the development of AJEC in its various phases displays an uncanny correspondence with my personal professional trajectory so far. Its inception and first volume happened during my postdoctoral fellowship when I was happy to place one of my first (coauthored) academic articles in its inaugural issue. The remainder of AJEC’s first approximate decade coincides with my time as a lecturer. At the time I took up my first chair, the format of AJEC changed, eventually turning it, for a while, into a Yearbook rather than a journal. And in the year I moved to my second chair, I was invited to take on the editorship of AJEC, which would now be published by Berghahn and returning to the format of two issues per year. This correspondence raises a curious question: What significant turning point for the journal will correspond with my own as I am becoming an emeritus professor?
Alexei Elfimov and Ullrich Kockel
As the new century unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that contexts in which anthropology is practised as an established discipline, scholarly enterprise, applied endeavour, profession and intellectual pursuit keep changing, altering and transforming. The general aim in putting together this collection of essays was to test the state and condition of the relationship between anthropology and society in a number of countries where anthropological discourses and ethnographic activity have had a tangible presence in academia and beyond. Adopting a comparative approach – anthropology’s long-term companion – that we hoped would once again allow us to highlight where things have developed differently and where they seemed the same (or indeed were only equally illusorily), we asked leading practitioners from Austria, Brazil, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa and the United States to ponder the same, rather broadly posed, set of questions.
Perspectives from SIEF, EASA and SAE
Ullrich Kockel, Susana Narotzky, and Deborah Reed-Danahay
AJEC @ 21: A Perspective from the Société Internationale d’Ethnologie et de Folklore (SIEF)
AJEC @ 21: A Perspective from the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)
AJEC @ 21: A Perspective from the Society for the Anthropology of Europe (SAE)
Cristina Clopot, Ullrich Kockel, and Vytis Čiubrinskas
At the end of last year, the AJEC team received the sad news that Christian Giordano had suddenly died during his Christmas holidays in Vilnius. Christian was one of the founders of AJEC, shaped the journal significantly during its early years as co-editor (1990–2001) and, for a time (1992–1998), publisher. He remained connected with it over the years, regularly acting as peer reviewer and informal advisor during Ullrich's tenure as editor. His final contribution to AJEC () was an essay for last year's special issue in memory of Ina-Maria Greverus, reflecting on their encounter through a shared interest in Sicily, their long personal friendship, and their often-theatrical academic relationship.