Universität Wien FIND

240526 SE The European Alps: Historical and current perspectives in Anthropology (P4) (2022S)

Prüfungsimmanente Lehrveranstaltung

Participation at first session is obligatory!

The lecturer can invite students to a grade-relevant discussion about partial achievements. Partial achievements that are obtained by fraud or plagiarized result in the non-evaluation of the course (entry 'X' in certificate). The plagiarism software 'Turnitin' will be used for courses with continuous assessment.


Hinweis: Ihr Anmeldezeitpunkt innerhalb der Frist hat keine Auswirkungen auf die Platzvergabe (kein "first come, first served").


max. 20 Teilnehmer*innen
Sprache: Englisch


Termine (iCal) - nächster Termin ist mit N markiert

Update 28.03.2022: The session on 30.03.2022 will be held digital. Students can use SR-D as a studyzone.

Update 16.03.2022: The session on 16.03.2022 will be held digital. Students can use SR-D as a studyzone.

If possible, the course is to be conducted in presence. Due to the respective applicable distance regulations and other measures, adjustments may be made.

Mittwoch 02.03. 13:15 - 16:30 Übungsraum (A414) NIG 4. Stock
Mittwoch 16.03. 13:15 - 16:30 Digital
Mittwoch 30.03. 13:15 - 16:30 Digital
Mittwoch 27.04. 13:15 - 16:30 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Mittwoch 11.05. 13:15 - 16:30 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Mittwoch 01.06. 13:15 - 16:30 Übungsraum (A414) NIG 4. Stock


Ziele, Inhalte und Methode der Lehrveranstaltung

The course provides a comprehensive overview and critical discussion of past and current research on and in the European Alps in anthropology. It pursues three aims: first, to stimulate and foster anthropological research on current life in the European Alps; second, to learn about the pressing issues of current living in mountain regions in Europe; and third, to critically reflect on the interconnection between regional selection and research topics and their assignment to different social and cultural sciences.

Anthropology holds a long history of researching social, cultural and environmental life in mountain regions all over the world. The European Alps, comprising highly heterogeneous regions and extending over eight nation states in Europe, have a particular place within anthropology. In this seminar we deal with historical and current approaches of conducting research on and in alpine regions in Europe. We will critically engage with the varying periods of great research activities but also the marginalization of research in the 20th century. First, we will engage with the past main topical, theoretical and methodological approaches to mountainous livelihood and contextualise them within the wider disciplinary interests. Such were for instance studies on local agricultural economies and issues of ownership of land, local strategies of adaptation to high-altitude environments, the relevance of social structures such as kinship and inheritance rules, group identities and rituals, and last but not least, various issues associated with the distinction between ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’. More or less, the past studies were shaped by concepts of bounded localities and a sharp distinction between the rural and urban. With shifting their emphasis on researching global dynamics and interconnectedness in the late 20th century, anthropologists have significantly reduced their interests in ‘the Alps’. As a consequence, they left the engagement with ‘the European Alps’ to a great extent to neighbouring social and cultural sciences for a considerable period. However, global phenomena like migration, tourism and climate change provoked a clear revival of social and cultural anthropological studies on current social, cultural and environmental changes in the European Alps. Arrived in the 21st century, anthropologists now consider the Alps not as bounded localities in rural areas any longer. Rather they conceive them as localities that are globally connected in manifold ways and due to that experience a broad range of changes. That way, current anthropology provides illuminative insights into the complex and often ambiguous and disputed processes of an ever increasing ‘vertical globalisation’ in the Alps. Based on various topics, theories, methods and ethnographic illustrations we will engage with these current research in critical ways.


We will draw on a broad range of ethnographic and methodological illustrations of studying social, economic, cultural and environmental issues in the European Alps. The teacher will provide a sound introduction to the seminar topic. Students will regularly read texts, research additional texts, participate in the discussions, give oral presentations, comment on films and texts, and write a final seminar paper. We will learn to critically engage with the methodological, theoretical and ethnographic approaches, discuss their particular relevance, strengths and weaknesses by relating them to past and current anthropological discourses.

Art der Leistungskontrolle und erlaubte Hilfsmittel

All partial performances must be met for receiving a positive grade!

Regular attendance
Active participation in discussions
Oral presentations and comments
Written comments on selected texts
Final written seminar paper (including research of additional publications)

Mindestanforderungen und Beurteilungsmaßstab

Regular attendance in class, active participation in discussions and completion of all readings is expected. (10 points).

Students will write commentaries on selected texts (20 points)

Students will present critical discussions of texts and comment on presentations. (20 points)

Students will submit a final written seminar paper (5000 words) (50 points at most).

Overall grading:
1 (sehr gut) = 100-89 points
2 (gut) = 88-76 points
3 (befriedigend) = 75-63 points
4 (genügend) = 62-50 points
5 (nicht genügend) = 49-0 points

Deadline of submission of final seminar paper: by the end of August 2022.


All oral and written performances.


Berthoud, Gérald (2001). The ‘spirit of the Alps’ and the making of political and economic modernity in Switzerland. Social Anthropology 9(1): 81–94.

Cole, John W. and Wolf, Eric R. [1974] 1999). Hidden Frontiers. Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley. With a new introduction. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.

Krauß, Werner (2018). Alpine landscapes in the Anthropocene: alternative common futures. Landscape Research 43(8): 1021-1031.

Membretti, Andrea, and Pier Paolo Viazzo (2017). Negotiating the Mountains. Foreign Immigration and Cultural Change in the Italian Alps. Martor 22: 93-107.

Netting, Robert McC. (1981). Balancing on an Alp. Ecological Change and Continuity in a Swiss Mountain Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nöbauer, Herta (2022). 'Our Existence is Literally Melting Away': Narrating and Fighting Climate Change in a Glacier Ski Resort in Austria. In: S. Hoffman, T.H. Eriksen & P. Mendes (Eds.), Cooling Down. Local Responses to Global Climate Change. New York, London: Berghahn, S. 223-245.

Viazzo, Pier Paolo (1989). Upland Communities. Environment, Population and Social Structure in the Alps since the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zuordnung im Vorlesungsverzeichnis

Letzte Änderung: Do 11.05.2023 11:28