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Being Caught between “Anthropology at Home” and “Anthropology Abroad”: an Overview of Epistemological Positions of Ethno-Anthropologists in the Balkan at the Turn of the 20th Century (2013-2014)

Field of study: Social Anthropology

This paper explores the epistemological vantage points used by ethno-anthropologists at the semiperiphery, by focusing on the discussion of zadruga (a large cooperative household in the mountainous regions of the Balkan, which existed during the 19th and early 20th centuries). Starting from Strathern’s (1987) distinction between “anthropologists abroad” and “anthropologists at home”, which
is based on different ways of learning from socio-cultural differences, the paper demonstrates that ethno-anthropologists from the Balkan could occupy either of these two positions, as well as those of a nationalist intellectual, or a combination and reversal of these positions. Such multiplicity of epistemological choices for the scholars in the Balkan is probably the result of working in the semiperiphery (Blagojević 2009; Blagojević and Yair 2010). While it is potentially enriching, it also means that ethno-anthropology in the Balkan is difficult to capture as a distinct epistemological standpoint.

Keywords: ethnology, anthropology, ethnography, semiperiphery, nativity, zadruga

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