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Regular version of the site

190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel, Room 123

Phone:+7 (812)786-92-49 

Postal address: 
190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel

Department Head Adrian A. Selin
Academic Supervisor Evgeniy Anisimov
Remembering the Neoliberal Turn: Economic Change and Collective Memory in Eastern Europe after 1989

Gökarıksel S., Gontarska O., Hilmar T. et al.

L.: Routledge, 2023.

Book chapter
The Stolbovo Treaty and Tracing the Border in Ingria in 1617–1618

Adrian Selin.

In bk.: Sweden, Russia, and the 1617 Peace of Stolbovo. Vol. 14. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2024. P. 99-118.

Working paper
The Image of the Past in Ciro Spontone’s ‘Historia Della Transilvania’

Khvalkov E., Levin F., Кузнецова А. Д.

Working Papers of Humanities. WP. Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ, 2021

Multispecies Ethnography

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Delivered by:
Department of History
3, 4 module


Cherkaev, Xenia

Cherkaev, Xenia

Course Syllabus


Animals are historical actors, but not historical subjects. They act in human history according to their own species-specific bio-social demands, quite impervious to human ideological demands and ethical standards. And this is why we should study them: the relationships people form with these stubbornly mute social actors often give us social scientists a surprising angle from which to study human worlds. In this class, we explore how historians and anthropologists have studied human relationships with all those non-human others who comprise our lives: the mammals, insects, fish, fungi, microbes that form our human families, bodies, diets, social histories and commodity chains. We will examine the diverse ways these non-humans have been made part of our economic and political worlds as workers, symbols and soldiers. Attention to the non-human requires a delicate theoretical framework. It requires looking past such dualities as subject and object, nature and culture – without simply collapsing them entirely to say that between humans and animals there is no significant difference. By studying how scholars have tackled this uneasy problematic in their ethnographic studies of other species, this class will grapple with the strange fact that “human nature,” as Anna Tsing puts is, “is an interspecies relationship.”
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The purpose of this class is to give students an introduction to the field of "multispecies ethnography," along with the conceptual tools to critically analyze it. To this end, the class situates the academic interest in non-human subjecthood within a broader post-WWII emergence of non-human juridical subjecthood (animal rights) and the changing social status of animals in industrial states.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • able to undestand animals as subjects and objects of language
  • Be able to analyze animals' roles in pastoral, agrarian, and large-scale state societies.
  • Be able to analyze the recent history of non-human juridical sujecthood
  • Be able to analyze how non-human subjectivity slips rational understading
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Language
  • Political economies of life and death
  • Animals beyond the rational
  • Politics of the post-human
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Final paper
    your final paper should be 8-10 pages (double-spaced, times new roman, 1 inch margins) and there are two options for writing it. Whichever option you choose, we will have the ability to discuss your final projects in class, four weeks before they are due.
  • non-blocking Class participation
    Your participation grade is reliant heavily (but not exclusively!) on reading response essays. Class readings are organized into four sections, one response essay is due per section. Response essays should be short (1 page, single space) summaries of one of the assigned texts. Critical analysis of the texts’s arguments is always welcome but is not required. Response essays are due in class on the day that the readings are discussed.
  • non-blocking Leading discussion
    Each student is responsible for leading seminar discussion of one text. This includes a short presentation on one or several of the assigned texts, with some thoughts on how it ties in with our other readings, and some questions to start off our discussion. This assignment is worth 20% of your grade. You are asked to sign up for the seminar you would like to lead in advance (by week 2 of the class).
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2022/2023 4th module
    0.4 * Class participation + 0.2 * Leading discussion + 0.4 * Final paper


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Agamben, G. (1998). Homo Sacer : Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1519297
  • Anthropology and myth : lectures, 1951-1982, Levi-Strauss, C., 1987
  • Foucault, M. (1990). The History of Sexuality : An Introduction. New York: Vintage. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=733101
  • Rethinking life and death : the collapse of our traditional ethics, Singer, P., 1995
  • Tim Ingold. (2011). Being Alive : Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. Routledge.
  • Tsing, A. L. (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World : On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=980728

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Donna J. Haraway. (2016). Staying with the Trouble : Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press Books.
  • The Nuer : a description of the modes of livelihood and political institutions of a Nilotic people, Evans-Pritchard, E.E., 1969