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Anthropology - Serbia

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Rationality has been an integral part of anthropology for almost eight decades – since the first formulations of “rational behavior” among “natives.” Some of these issues (especially in relation to the concept of the so-called “primitive mentality”) were already formulated by the French philosopher Lucien Lévy-Bruhl in the first decades of the 20th century. In social and cultural anthropology, the issue of rationality is present at least since Evans-Pritchard’s groundbreaking study of the Azande, and its subsequent criticism by Winch. This criticism already widened the debate to a more general area of social sciences, but anthropology remained, with its “case studies”, a popular point of reference when discussing reason and rationality. However, several years ago, an eminent US anthropologist (Yanagisako) noted a conspicuous absence of the “R word” (she meant rationality) from contemporary anthropological debates.
The role of rationality is a complex issue that has profound influence on both methodology of social sciences and, more importantly, ways in which we (as scholars, but also as members of the public) explain the behavior of particular actors in a social arena. This can have relevance to understanding and interpreting patterns of behavior in the political and social contexts (for example, when voting), intercultural communication (increasingly relevant in the world of increased cultural hybridity, and especially with large movements of population that we are witnessing since 2015), or in processes of setting up different economic or social policies (that go along with the major shifts in political and cultural relations on a global scale). Debates about the use of rationality in social sciences have recently been re-ignited with discussions about the “ontological turn” in anthropology. Thus, an evaluation of the concept, its meanings, and its usefulness should prove to be very useful.

Activities / Resume


Aleksandar Bošković is Professor of anthropology at the University of Belgrade (Serbia) and at the University of Donja Gorica (Montenegro). He is also Director of Research at the Institute of Social Sciences (Belgrade), where he co-ordinates Anthropological Section. He was Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Visiting Professor of European Ethnology at the University of Brasília (Brazil), Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (South Africa), and Guest Lecturer at the Universities of St Andrews and Witwatersrand (South Africa). Between 2013 and 2018 Bošković was Deputy Chair of the Commission on Theoretical Anthropology (COTA) of the IUAES. He is co-founder of the History of Anthropology Network of the EASA (with Han Vermeulen), and EASA Book Series Editor (since 2016). He is also editor of the Berghahn Books latest series, “Anthropology’s Ancestors.” Bošković was Chief Editor of the Dictionary of Deities and Mythic Personalities of the World (Belgrade, 2015). Other publications include Mesoamerican Religions and Archaeology (Oxford, 2017), Other People’s Anthropologies (New York, 2008; editor), and The Anthropological Field on the Margins of Europe, 1945-1991 (Berlin 2013; co-editor, with Chris Hann).
Since 2006 he collaborates with the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Social Anthropology in Halle (Germany), and received grants from the MPI and the DAAD. His research interests are history and theory of anthropology, psychoanalysis, myth and religion, semiotics, ethnicity, nationalism, and gender.



  • 2017 Mesoamerican Religions and Archaeology: Essays in Pre-Columbian Civilizations. Archaeopress Pre-Columbian Archaeology, 7. Oxford: Archaeopress. viii + 92 pp, illustrations, glossary, bibliography, index. ISBN 978-1-78491-502-5
  • 2013 (edited; with Chris Hann) The Anthropological Field on the Margins of Europe, 1945-1991. Halle Studies in Anthropology of Eurasia, 29. Berlin: Lit Verlag. 392 pp., maps, indices.
  • 2008 (edited) Other People's Anthropologies: Ethnographic Practice on the Margins. Oxford and New York: Berghahn. 240 pp, maps, bibliography, index.


  • 2016 A very personal anthropology of Mary Douglas. Anthropological Notebooks 22(1): 119-123.
  • 2014 Sociolog koji nije bio ovde. Racionalnost, antropologija i Raymond Boudon. [The sociologist who wasn’t there: Rationality, anthropology and Raymond Boudon]. Antropologija 2/2014: 53-69.
  • 2013 (with Suzana Ignjatović) “Are we there yet?” Citizens of Serbia and public policy of gender equality within EU accession context. European Journal of Women’s Studies 20(4): 425-440.
  • 2013 Kapferer, Bruce, et al., Legends of People, Myths of State, 2nd ed. 2012; Hobart, Angela, and Bruce Kapferer (eds.), Contesting the State, 2012. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 138(2): 301-306.
  • 2012 [with Suzana Ignjatović] Understanding ethnic conflicts through rational choice: a review article. Ethnos 77(2): 289-295.
  • 2011 Ratko Mladić: Relativism, myth and reality. Anthropology Today 27(4): 1-3.
  • 2007 “World Anthropologies” and anthropologies in the world: Three perspectives. A review essay. Anthropos 102: 230-234.
  • 2007 (with Ilana van Wyk) Troubles with identity: South African anthropology, 1921-2005. Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures 16: 147-156.
  • 2005 Joyeuses Tropiques: Five encounters with alterities in Brazil. Dialectical Anthropology 29(2): 221-239.
  • 2003b Phantoms of "Africa". Michel Leiris and the anthropology of the continent. Gradhiva 34: 1-6.