Altering States

Ethnographies of Transition in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union
Daphne Berdahl, Matti Bunzl, and Martha Lampland, Editors
Analyzes the social and cultural aspects of transition


The dominant focus in transition studies to date has been on economic and political factors--analyses generally conducted at the national or international level. The essays in Altering States instead bring us a closer look at what has been happening in everyday life in urban contexts in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Armenia, and Russia.

The contributors to the volume—all anthropologists—use ethnographic methods to make visible problems and challenges that have until now been obscured. From synagogue restoration in Eastern Europe to gay tourism in Prague to the politics of rock music in Hungary, specific, local topics lead the authors to confront difficult questions of individual agency and discursive practices in the move away from socialism. Broader themes touched on include race and ethnicity, sexuality and postcoloniality, the politics of environmental restoration, and memory and remembrance in the politics of history.

Altering States will fill an important gap in the study of transition in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It will appeal to anthropologists, political scientists, and sociologists and will be accessible to undergraduate and graduate students alike.

Daphne Berdahl is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota.

Matti Bunzl is Aaron and Robin Fischer Professor of Jewish Culture and Society and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Martha Lampland is Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California at San Diego.

Praise / Awards

  • "Equally useful for specialists and general readers. . . . Written in engaging and accessible language."
    —Katherine Verdery, Contemporary Sociology, Volume 31, No.1

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 264pp.
  • 17 photographs, 1 table, 1 map.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08617-7

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  • $36.95 U.S.