Ulf Brunnbauer

This article argues that historical anthropology provides approaches for the exploration of previously neglected problems of the history of Southeastern Europe. Historical anthropology is not seen as a fixed set of methodologies and theories but rather as a perspective which directs attention to the questions of how societies have worked in the past and “ordinary” people made sense of their lives. Furthermore, historical anthropology tends to be comparative. In the past, Southeastern European historians concentrated on political history and ethnographers on the “traditional” culture of their nation, with little interaction between the two disciplines. After the fall of the communist system in 1989/1991, however, historians and ethnologists borrowed approaches from each other. The potential of historical anthropology is shown in particular with respect to the study of the social fabric of socialism—a topic until now shunned by historians while anthropologists have provided exemplary studies on this issue. The article ends with a discussion of the limits oPf historical anthropology and warns not to leave the state and economic structures out of historical analysis.