Social Anthropology

At the Department of Caucasus Studies

Approaching the Caucasus as a land of “multi” is a commonplace. The Caucasus is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual region. The diversity of the region is a beautiful example of how to live side-by-side and practice different religions together or speaking various languages in one country.  However, it is also a place of conflict and clash.

Before anthropology, travelers and geographers like Strabo, Procopius and Al-Masudi were the first to provide descriptive material of tribes, their life-style, customs, and peculiarities from the Caucasus. Active ethnographic work by Russian, German, and indigenous researchers started in the mid-19th century (Tuite 2006). After establishing the Soviet Union, the Caucasus as all the other regions of the Union became an active field for ethnographic studies that were mostly carried out by native researchers. The Caucasian village was believed to be a place of authentic traditions and a place of preserving religious forms, language, and costumes. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the subsequent tremendous changes and today globalization reaching every remote corner of the world, the Caucasus has become an open and accessible place for international scholars.

In our department, we aim to show that anthropology as an interdisciplinary endeavor can provide answers to a plethora of research questions while shaking off ideas of the ‘exotic’ or ‘authentic’ Caucasus. Our teaching and research have a strong focus on urban life and cities, migration processes, gender issues, and Post-Soviet transformation. Topics are related to economic anthropology, urban anthropology and Post-Soviet anthropology. During seminars and lectures students acquire basic knowledge of anthropological theories and methods such as participant observation and interviewing techniques. This preparation together with languages courses allows students to take part in field work expeditions and gain personal research experience in the Caucasus region. In addition, we regularly organize movie screenings under the name of our “Kaukasus Kino Klub” followed by discussions.


Exemplary courses (in English)

  • Informal practices in the Caucasus
  • Youth movements in the Caucasus and beyond
  • Identity groups
  • Sociocultural analysis of Post-Soviet movies from Georgia


Ongoing PhD projects and Master projects

  • Michael Stürmer – Perzeptionen von Europa und migrantische Strategien georgischer Asylbewerber (MA Thesis)


Completed PhD and Master theses

  • Joseph Sparsbrod – Everyday life in old Tbilisi: living in a confined space (PhD Thesis)
  • Tamar Khutsishvili – Land use strategies in an Armenian border village (PhD Thesis)
  • Weronika Zmiejewski – Georgian women migration to Greece (PhD Thesis)
  • Simone Gasch – Politisierte Kunst und Künstler in Jerewan (MA Thesis)


Kino Klub Kaukasus

Kino Klub Kaukasus is a space for screening movies and discussions. We show movies from the Caucasus and beyond. Our door is open not only for our students but also for others interested in the region or in movies. The last two years’ experience encourages us to say that the aim of the Kino Klub Kaukasus to become a public and open space for discussion has been reached.


Conferences and workshops

  • Youngster’s Livelihoods and Movements in Peripheralised Regions, February 27-28, 2020, Caucasus Studies Jena
  • Migration, Mobile Goods and Trade Networks in the Caucasus, November 18-19, 2016, Caucasus Studies Jena

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