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African Historical Anthropology and Diverse Directions of Social Evolution

Priority areas of development: humanitarian

Goal of research

The International Centre of Anthropology was founded in February 2018 as a research unit within the School of History, Faculty of Humanities, National Research University Higher School of Economics. The Centre studies social institutions, forms of political organization and cultures of peoples of the past and present in historical dynamics, in the context of local and global sociocultural history. At the current stage of the Centre's activities (2018), the academic work of its faculty complies with two main areas that have a profound inner content and conceptual-methodological connection for all their autonomy:

1. Historical Anthropology of Africa;

2. Diverse Directions of Social Evolution.

  • Historical Anthropology of Africa (Including the African Diaspora)
  • Supervisors – Dmitri M. Bondarenko and Marina L. Butovskaya

The aim of the project area is to determine how the historical past – both real facts and cultural memory of it – affect the current state of societies and cultures of post-colonial countries in sub-Saharan Africa and African diaspora communities. The particular aspects of the problematique are: the influence of historical memory on modern socio-cultural processes in Africa (in particular, on the formation of postcolonial nations); the role of historical and cultural factors in determining the nature of relations within African diasporas and between migrants from African countries and host societies in Africa itself, in Western and Eastern Europe (including Russia), North America, the Caribbean and Australia; the identification and analysis of a wide range of factors (beginning with biological factors) that determine the formation of socio-cultural attitudes of the inhabitants of modern African countries and the directions for the transformation of the post-colonial sub-Saharan African societies.

  • Diverse Directions of Social Evolution
  • Supervisors – Dmitri M. Bondarenko and Dmitri D. Beliaev

The goal of the project area is to form a holistic concept of non-linear social evolution and the diversity of forms of socio-political organization of societies of the same level of socio-cultural complexity. In 2018 (and on) researchers are focusing on two key aspects of the theory. The first aspect is the basic principles of organization of societies (heterarchic and homoarchic) and variations of their historical realization, from the communities of prehuman primates to modern societies. The second aspect is related to the forms of socio-political organization of pre-industrial societies alternating the state.


Methodology of research is based on the achievements of both history and anthropology. General anthropological methods of field research (participant observation, formal and informal, in-depth interviews, questionnaires) were used by stuff members participated in the expeditions to African countries and Oceania (Dmitri M. Bondarenko, Marina L. Butovskaya, Alina O. Lapushkina, Anastasia A. Banshchikova, Oxana V. Ivanchenko, Daria A. Zelenova, Albert I. Davletshin). Methods of modern archeology and epigraphy are essential for the research of Dmitri D. Beliaev. Historical methodology includes classic comparative method, structural analyses, event-analyses, cognitive mapping (Sergey V. Kostelyanets), etc. It is also worth mentioning the combined usage of historical and anthropological methods in the works of Alexey S. Shchavelev on early polity of Croats.

Empirical base of research

Empirical base of the research is very broad and diverse. Studies are carried out on the basis of a large number of both published and unpublished sources with the use of the widest range of supporting literature in all major languages of academic communication. In some works visual materials were used in addition to written sources: elements of the urban space design in the research on social advertising, photographs of museum collections in the research on historical memory and mechanisms of its transmission. A special place among the sources is occupied by the ethnographic and archaeological materials collected by the staff of the Centre.

For each of the subtopics of the Centre's researches there is a unique source base besides the general written materials, ethnographic articles etc. For the subtopic "Historical Anthropology of Africa" socio-anthropological field studies have a special place. Thus, in 2018 Marina L. Butovskaya, Anastasia A. Banshchikova and O.V. Ivanchenko carried out field researches in Tanzania, Dmitri .M. Bondarenko and Alina O. Lapushkina – in Uganda. For the subtopic "Diverse Directions of Social Evolution" the most important sources are archaeological field materials obtained by Dmitri D. Beliaev during excavations in Guatemala. In accordance with the topics of their researches Centre's employees use the documents of the RSAAD, published and unpublished records of Yukagir and other East Siberian folklore of the XIX-XX centuries, Egyptology lexicographical materials, Middle Eastern sources (RIMA 1-3, RINAP 1), series of issues of texts (MGH, CFHB, MPH, MMFH and many others), digitized Greek and Latin scripts, manuscript collections of the State Historical Museum and the Russian State Library, media materials and official websites of African states, as well as documents and analytical materials of the international and regional organizations.

Results of research

Within the framework of the project various components of nonlinear social evolution were studied. While working on subtopic "Historical Anthropology of Africa" number of studies was conducted dealing with: the impact of the historical past on the later and present state of societies of postcolonial Africa south of the Sahara and their diasporas (Dmitri M. Bondarenko, Alina O. Lapushkina); other phenomena of group solidarity (Marina L. Butovskaya, Anastasia A. Banshchikova, Oxana V. Ivanchenko); physical anthropology of East Africa (Marina L. Butovskaya); anthropology of African ethno-political processes, especially conflicts and violence, including terrorism (Sergey V. Kostelyanets). While working on subtopic "Diversity of social evolution directions" the following themes were studied: the constitution and construction of ethnosocial, ethnocultural, ethnopolitical non-state and early state communities, their territory, self- and other-identification, including their connection with migrations and ethnic interactions, the reflections of these processes in historical memory (Alexey S. Shchavelev; Alexandre A. Nemirovsky); socio-political institutions of archaic polities (Alexey S. Schavelev; Albert I. Davletshin). In all these areas new scientific results were obtained, presented in 44 published and in-print works and 69 reports at the conferences and other academic meetings.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

Results of research implemented in the first place in Centre’s educational activity within National Research University Higher School of Economics and other universities. The Centre faculty members teach general anthropology courses as part of basic curriculum of educational programs for bachelor and master's in various fields and in the framework of university "minors", as well as more specialized courses – Physical Anthropology, Evolutionary Anthropology, Political Anthropology, Historical Anthropology, Anthropology of Conflicts, Social Anthropology of the East, etc.


Угрозы безопасности Африки: современные тенденции.: Московский государственный лингвистический университет, 2018. 
Бондаренко Д. М. Увидеть в капле море: старообрядцы Уганды как отражение культурных процессов в современной Африке, in: Антропология Африки: новые объекты исследования. Москва : Институт Африки РАН, 2018. С. 12-34. 
Немировский А. А. Переселения народов первой трети XII в. до н.э. и хурритский мир, in: От века бронзового до века цифрового: феномен миграции во времени. Колл. монография / сост., науч., лит. ред. С.А. Панарин; ред. англ. текстов А.А. Космарский; Ин-т востоковедения РАН; Алтайский гос. ун-т. –. Барнаул : Изд-во Алт. ун-та, 2018. – 436 с. ISBN 978-5-7904-2258-4. Барнаул : Издательство Алтайского университета, 2018. С. 201-210. 
Beliaev D., Vepretskii S. Los monumentos de Itsimte (Petén, Guatemala): nuevos datos e interpretaciones // Arqueologia Iberoamericana. 2018. No. 38. P. 3-13. 
Njoku C. I., Bondarenko D. M. State Building, States, and State Transformation in Africa: Introduction // Social Evolution & History. 2018. Vol. 17. No. 1. P. 3-15. doi
Baskin K., Bondarenko D. M. The Role of Complexity Studies in the Emerging “Processual” Worldview // Emergence: Complexity and Organization. 2018. Vol. 20. No. 1. P. 1-11. doi
Бондаренко Д. М., Хохолькова Н. Е. Метаморфозы идентичности африкано-американцев в постсегрегационную эпоху и теория афроцентризма // Контуры глобальных трансформаций: политика, экономика, право. 2018. Т. 11. № 2. C. 30-45. doi
Butovskaya M. Mapping sweetness preference across the lifespan for culturally different societies // Journal of Environmental Psychology. 2018. Vol. 58. P. 72-76. doi
undefined., Денисова Т. С. Review of ‘Searching for Boko Haram. A History of Violence in Central Africa’ by Scott Maceachern // Social Evolution & History. 2018. Vol. 17. No. 1. P. 202-208. doi
Денисова Т. С., Костелянец С. В. ЛИБЕРИЯ: ВСЕОБЩИЕ ВЫБОРЫ 2017 Г // Вестник Ярославского государственного университета им. П.Г. Демидова. Серия Гуманитарные науки. 2018. № 1. C. 28-32. 
Костелянец С. В., Денисова Т. С. Уганда: от Движения Святого Духа к Армии сопротивления Господа (К вопросу о христианском терроризме в Африке) // Восток. Афро-Азиатские общества: история и современность. 2018. № 3. C. 94-104. doi
Немировский А. А., Прокопьева П. Е., Жукова Л. Н. «Грабить не для себя»: мотив юкагирского эпоса о Халандине в историко-культурном контексте // Северо-Восточный гуманитарный вестник. 2018. Т. 1. № 22. C. 36-40. doi
Немировский А. А., Сафронов А. В. Еще раз к вопросу об ахейцах в Киликии в 12 в. до н.э. // Индоевропейское языкознание и классическая филология. 2018. Т. XXII. № 2. C. 945-960. doi
Luin C., Beliaev D., Galeev P., Vepretskii S. Las inscripciones jeroglíficas del Museo VICAL, Casa Santo Domingo, in: XXXI Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala. Guatemala : Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes; Instituto de Antropologia e Historia; Asociacion Tikal, 2018. С. 877-886. 
Beliaev D., De L. M., Galeev P., Vepretskii S., Luin C., Safronov A., Garay A. Proyecto “Atlas Epigráfico de Petén”: resultados de temporada 2016, in: XXXI Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala. Guatemala : Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes; Instituto de Antropologia e Historia; Asociacion Tikal, 2018. С. 825-838. 
Банщикова А. А. Об одной волшебной древнеегипетской статуе в средневековом арабском анониме «Ах̮ба̄р аз-зама̄н», in: «Хранящий большое время». Сборник научных трудов к 50-летию А.А. Немировского. Москва , 2018. С. 63-76. 
Денисова Т. С., Костелянец С. В. Армия Сопротивления Господа: "дети" Джозефа Кони, in: МОЕ АФРИКАНСКОЕ ДЕТСТВО : ДЕТИ АФРИКИ В КОНТЕКСТЕ КУЛЬТУРНОЙ И ИСТОРИЧЕСКОЙ АНТРОПОЛОГИИ.: Ярославский государственный университет им. П.Г. Демидова, 2018. С. 91-102. 
Немировский А. А. Где кончается Египет и начинаются чужеземные страны? Еще раз о термине Kmt в надписях Камоса, in: Aegyptiaca Rossica. Москва : Русский Фонд содействия образованию и науке, 2018. С. 226-247.