Dace Dzenovska

Associate Professor in the Anthropology of Migration

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Dace Dzenovska holds doctoral and master’s degrees in social cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and an interdisciplinary master’s degree in humanities and social thought from New York University. She specializes in political anthropology, focusing in particular on three areas:

(1) the geopolitics of mobility and migration;
(2) forms of statehood, sovereignty, and capitalism in post-Cold War Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union; and,
(3) (post)socialism as a critical lens for analysis of “late liberalism” and corresponding knowledge practices in anthropology.

Her first book, School of Europeanness: Tolerance and Other Lessons in Political Liberalism (2018, Cornell University Press), examines efforts to instil liberal political virtues in Latvian public space and political institutions as part of postsocialist liberalization and democratization initiatives. The book argues that Eastern Europe should be viewed as a laboratory for forging post-Cold War political liberalism in Europe. The book’s chapters focus on the moral landscape surrounding the history of European colonialism, Soviet socialism, and Latvian nationalism; minority politics; critical thinking; injurious language; and asylum politics and border control. The book shows that Europe’s contemporary liberal democratic polities are based on a fundamental tension between the need to exclude and the requirement to profess and institutionalize the value of inclusion. It also provides insights into the current crisis of political liberalism from a moment in time when its proponents were still confident and from the perspective of a place, and people thought to have never been liberal.

Her second book, The Great Departure: Staying and Leaving After Postsocialism (in preparation), is an ethnographic study of the formation of post-Soviet capitalism and European integration in the Latvian countryside. It analyzes leaving and staying as tactics of life in conditions of deindustrialization, ruination, and the emptying of the Latvian countryside. Dace examines how individuals who have experienced the economic and political transformations of the last twenty-five years understand the logic of post-Soviet capitalism and craft their lives based on this understanding.

Personal website: Dace Dzenovska - Anthropological perspectives on public and political life

Project website: Emptiness: emptying towns and villages in Eastern Europe


ODID COVID Flash Talks

Strelka X Summer

(Russian and English)



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