Academia without contention? : The legacy of Czechoslovak ethnography and folklore studies in Czech anthropology
One issue of the post-socialist transformation of Czech higher education has been the many attempts to establish an independent discipline of sociocultural anthropology. As many observers noted, the establishment of a fully-fledged Czech anthropology after the collapse of communism in 1989 proved to be a rather difficult task. Many accounts offered various explanations for the uneasy state of emerging Czech anthropology, but none of them focused on the specific academic practices that anthropology inherited from its predecessor—Czechoslovak ethnography. While anthropological names, books, and theories entered wide circulation and have become a regular part of curricula since the 1990s, the specific way ethnography is practiced has remained unchanged. The article looks at the Department of Ethnography and Folklore Studies at Charles University, which, in the 1990s, became one of the departments where students were able to take courses in anthropology. While the students were given an introduction to anthropological knowledge, they were not led to adopt the specific set of scholarly attitudes that are intrinsic to sociocultural anthropology, the most important of which is a specific approach to academic debates. It could be concluded that this uneven distribution of academic expertise, this disunion between knowledge and non-knowledge, may have severely delayed the development of an autonomous tradition of Czech sociocultural anthropology.