Tatjana Thelen

Tatjana ThelenNetwork Member

Prof. Thelen started her academic career with a dissertation on consequences of post-socialist economic transformations in Hungary and Romania focusing specifically on property relations (PhD 2002, Freie Universität Berlin). As a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology within the Working Group of Legal Pluralism she carried out research in eastern Germany and later also Serbia. During this time her focus shifted from the consequences of economic reforms on social inequality to care and welfare. Increasingly also the interfaces and boundary work between kinship and state formations as well as their epistemic foundations became an additional focus of her research.

Central to her theorising these developments has been the role of establishing and practicing care responsibilities for the (re)production (or dissolution) of significant relations. Drawing on diverse strands of social scientific literature, she argues that care as analytical concepts allows for bridging diverse field in economic and political anthropology allowing for new insights into social organisation. A second major field of her work concerns the critique of how social sciences had so far conceived of South-eastern European societies and their (post-socialist) transformations. Taken together both research fields fed into her latest interest in questions of how differences and relational categories are modelled upon understandings of historical development as central features of Western self-understanding. This question stood also at the heart of the interdisciplinary research group at the Center for Interdisciplinary research in Bielefeld which she headed together with colleagues from Los Angeles, Zurich and Bayreuth during the Academic Year 2017/18.

Current position
Full Professor (Vienna) & Fellow at the IEA (Institut d'Etudes Avancées de Paris) and the FMSH (Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'homme)
University affiliation
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology (University of Vienna)

Research

Tatjana started her academic career as an economic anthropologist studying property in post-socialist Hungary and Romania, which soon led her to explore the role of care in processes of political transformation. She has argued that care needs to be seen as central to both constituting and dissolving significant relations spanning different fields, while the state emerges through relational modalities, forms of embeddedness of actors, and boundary work. In her current project she follows up on these interests combining state and care with a special focus on measurements of kinship. Technologies underlying paternity and genomic testing build on shared ideas about the importance of descent as constituting kinship, which then translate into various forms of political belonging, including citizenship. Notwithstanding the social scientific critique of essentializing concepts like kinship, ethnicity and nation, the tendency to naturalize belonging remains very prominent in political and public discourses. These understandings generate inclusion for some individuals, but also exclusion or marginalization of ‘other’ internal and external populations.

Publications

  • Thelen, Tatjana and Erdmute Alber (eds.) (in press) (2021) "Politics and Kinship: A Reader." Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (forthcoming) (2021) "Care as Belonging, Difference, and Inequality." in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology , edited by Mark Aldenderfer. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (in press) (2021) "Kinship (in German)." in Gebrauchsanweisung Kultur: Zentrale Begriffe in der alltäglichen Verständigung , edited by Brigitta Schmidt-Lauber and Manuel Liebig. Wien, Köln, Weimar: Böhlau.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2021) "Review. Marilyn Strathern: “Relations. An Anthropological Account.” Durham, NC: Duke University Press." in Soziopolis: Gesellschaft beobachten.https://soziopolis.de/lesen/buecher/artikel/entfesselte-verwandtschaft
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Cati Coe (2020) "养老带来政治归属:时间维度、表征形式以及相互性. Chinese translation of 'Political Belonging through Elder Care: Temporalities, Representations and Mutuality'." in Journal of Qinghai Minzu University 46 (4): 9–21.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2019) "Culture/s or Ontology/ies as Critique? A Reply to Caroline Arni (in German)." in Historische Anthropologie 28 (2): 274–280. → https://www.vr-elibrary.de/doi/10.7788/hian.2019.27.2.274
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Cati Coe (2019) "Political belonging through elder care: Temporalities, representations and mutuality." in Anthropological Theory 19 (2): 279–299. First Published 2017: → https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1463499617742833
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2018) "Socialism: Marxist-Leninist-Maoist." in Encyclopedia of Anthropology , edited by Hilary Callan. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. → https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea1836
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2018) "Property." in International Encyclopedia of Anthropology , edited by Hilary Callan. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. → https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea2349
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2018) "Ethnographic Methods." in Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation , edited by Raj Kollmorgen, Wolfgang Merkel and Hans-Jürgen Wagener. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Erdmute Alber (eds.) (2017) "Reconnecting State and Kinship." Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Thelen, Tatjana, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (eds.) (2017) "Stategraphy: Toward a Relational Anthropology of the State." New York, Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2017) "Property: An essential dimension of social organization and change." in Ökonomische Anthropologie: Einführung und Fallbeispiele , edited by Gertraud Seiser, 144-162. Vienna: Facultas.
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Erdmute Alber (2017) "Reconnecting State and Kinship: Temporalities, Scales, Classifications." in Reconnecting State and Kinship , edited by Tatjana Thelen and Erdmute Alber, 1-35. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Thelen, Tatjana, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (2017) "Introduction. Stategraphy: Relational Modes, Boundary Work, and Embeddedness." in Stategraphy: Toward a Relational Anthropology , edited by Tatjana Thelen, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, 1-19. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2015) "Care as Social Organisation: Creating, Maintaining and dissolving significant relations." in Anthropological Theory 15 (4): 497-515.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2015) "Ethnographische Methoden." in Handbuch Transformationsforschung , edited by Raj Kollmorgen, Wolfgang Merkel and Hans-Jürgen Wagener, 255-264. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2015) "Care of the Elderly, Migration, Community: Explorations from Rural Romania." in Rethinking Care: Kinship, Work, Institutions, and the Life-Course , edited by Erdmute Alber and Heike Drotbohm, 137-155. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2014) "Care/Sorge: Konstruktion, Reproduktion und Auflösung bedeutsamer Bindungen." Bielefeld: transcript.
  • Thelen, Tatjana, Larissa Vetters, and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (2014) "Introduction to Stategraphy: Toward a Relational Approach to Anthropology of the State." in Social Analysis 58 (3): 1-19.
  • Thelen, Tatjana, Andre Thiemann, and Duska Vranjes (2014) "State Kinning and Kinning the State in Serbian Elder Care Programs." in Social Analysis 58 (3): 107-123.
  • Thelen, Tatjana, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (2014) "Stategraphy: Toward a Relational Anthropology of the State (Special Issue)." in Social Analysis 58 (3).
  • Thelen, Tatjana, Cati Coe, and Erdmute Alber (2013) "The Anthropology of Sibling Relations: Explorations in Shared Parentage, Experience, and Exchange." in The Anthropology of Sibling Relations: Shared Parentage, Experience, and Exchange , edited by Erdmute Alber, Cati Coe and Tatjana Thelen, 1-28. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Alber, Erdmute, Cati Coe and Tatjana Thelen (2013) "The Anthropology of Sibling Relations: Shared Parentage, Experience and Exchange." New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kay, Rebecca, Sergei Shubin, and Tatjana Thelen (2012) "Rural realities in the post-socialist space (Special issue)." in Journal of Rural Studies 28 (2).
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2012) "Economic concepts, common grounds and ‘new’ diversity in the Anthropology of postsocialism: Reply to Verdery and Dunn." in Critique of Anthropology 32 (1): 87–90.
  • Kay, Rebecca, Sergei Shubin and Tatjana Thelen (2012) "Rural realities in post-socialist space: Introduction." in Journal of Rural Studies 28 (2): 55-62.
  • Gingrich, Andre and Tatjana Thelen (2012) "Comparative Anthropology: Achievements, Failures and Future." in Ethnologie Francaise 42 (2): 385-391.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2012) "'The natural order of things' and State Policies: Parenting in eastern Germany after 1989." in Ethnologie francaise, Special issue on Parentés et Paternités 42 (1): 45-54 , edited by Martine Segalen.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2011) "Shortage, fuzzy property and other dead ends in anthropological analysis of (post) socialism." in Critique of Anthropology 31 (1): 43-61.
  • Thelen, Tatjana, Stefan Dorondel, Alexandra Szöke, and Larissa Vetters (2011) "‘The sleep has been rubbed from their eyes’: Social citizenship and the reproduction of local hierarchies in rural Hungary and Romania." in Citizenship Studies 15 (3-4): 513-527.
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Haldis Haukanes (2010) "Parenting after the Century of the Child: Travelling Ideals, Institutional Negotiations and Individual Responses." Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Thelen, Tatjana, and Haldis Haukanes (2010) "Parenthood and Childhood: Debates within the Social Sciences." in Parenting After the Century of the Child: Travelling Ideals, Institutional Negotiations and Individual Responses , edited by Tatjana Thelen and Haldis Haukanes, 11-33. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2010) "Modernität, Mangelwirtschaft und Postsozialismus: Probleme ethnologischer und soziologischer Theoriebildung angesichts gesellschaftlicher Veränderung." in Sociologus 60 (1): 15-40.
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Carolin Leutloff-Grandits (2010) "Self Sacrifice or natural donation? A life course perspective on grandmothering in New Zagreb (Croatia) and East Berlin (Germany)." in Horizontes Antropologicos 16 (34): 427-452.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2010) "Kinning im Alter: Verbundenheit und Sorgebeziehungen ostdeutscher Senior/Innen." in Verwandtschaft heute , edited by Erdmute Alber, Bettina Beer, Julia Pauli and Michael Schnegg, 225-248. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2010) "Two German localities: Introduction." in Family, Kinship and State in Contemporary Europe: The View from Below: Nineteen Localities. Vol. 2 , edited by Patrick Heady and Peter Schweitzer, 225-231. Frankfurt, New York: Campus.
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Astrid Baerwolf (2010) "Navigating Kinship relations in eastern Germany: Love, care and limits." in Family, Kinship and State in Contemporary Europe: The View from Below: Nineteen Localities. Vol. 2 , edited by Patrick Heady and Peter Schweitzer, 232-267. Frankfurt, New York: Campus.
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Haldis Haukanes (2010) "Parenting After the Century of the Child: Introduction." in Parenting After the Century of the Child: Travelling Ideals, Institutional Negotiations and Individual Responses , edited by Tatjana Thelen and Haldis Haukanes, 1-10. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2010) "Privatizing Parenthood – Modernizing Childhood? Paradoxes of School Reform in Eastern Germany." in Parenting After the Century of the Child: Travelling Ideals, Institutional Negotiations and Individual Responses , edited by Tatjana Thelen and Haldis Haukanes, 141-161. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Leutloff-Grandits, Carolin, Anja Peleikis and Tatjana Thelen (2009) "Social Security in Religious Networks: Anthropological Perspectives on New Risks and Ambivalences." New York, Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Thelen, Tatjana, Carolin Leutloff-Grandits and Anja Peleikis (2009) "Social Security in Religious Networks: An Introduction." in Social Security in Religious Networks: Anthropological Perspectives on New Risks and Ambivalences , edited by Carolin Leutloff-Grandits, Anja Peleikis and Tatjana Thelen, 1-30. New York, Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2009) "Social Security, Life Courses and Religious Norms: Ambivalent Layers of Support in an Eastern German Protestant Network." in Social Security in Religious Networks: Anthropological Perspectives on New Risks and Ambivalences , edited by Carolin Leutloff-Grandits, Anja Peleikis and Tatjana Thelen, 94-122. New York, Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Astrid Baerwolf (2008) "Traditionalisierung in der Flexibilisierung: Familiäre Arbeitsteilung in Ostdeutschland." in Flexibilisierung: Folgen für Arbeit und Familie , edited by Marc Szydlik, 275-294. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
  • Thelen, Tatjana and Rosie Read (2007) "Social Security and Care After Socialism (Special Section)." in Focaal 50 (2).
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2007) "'Veteran Care' Shifting provision, needs, and meanings of enterprise-centred pensioner care in eastern Germany." in Focaal 50: 35-50.
  • Read, Rosie and Tatjana Thelen (2007) "Introduction. Social security and care after socialism: Reconfigurations of public and private." in Focaal 50: 3-18.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2007) "Partition and Partings: The Paradox of German Kinship Ties." in The Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts , edited by Smita Tewari Jassal and Eyal Ben-Ari, 221-242. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2006) "Law and mutual assistance in families: A comparison of socialist legacies in Hungary and eastern Germany." in Journal of Legal Pluralism 53-54: 177-207.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2006) "Lunch in an East German Enterprise: Differences in Eating Habits as Symbols of Collective Identities." in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 131: 51-70.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2005) "Violence and social (dis)continuity: Comparing collectivization in two East European villages." in Social History 30 (1): 25-44.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2005) "Caring Grandfathers: Changes in Support between Generations in East Germany." in Generations, Kinship and Care: Gendered Provisions of Social Security in Central Eastern Europe , edited by Haldis Haukanes and Frances Pine, 163-188. Bergen: Universität Bergen.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2004) "Gewalt und soziale Reproduktion: Ein Vergleich der Kollektivierungspraxis in zwei Dörfern." in Anthropologie der Konflikte , edited by Julia Eckert, 136-154. Bielefeld: transcript.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2003) "Privatisierung und soziale Ungleichheit in der osteuropäischen Landwirtschaft: Zwei Fallstudien aus Ungarn und Rumänien." Frankfurt a.M., New York: Campus.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2003) "'The New Power of Old Men': Privatisation and Family Relations in Mesterszállás (Hungary)." in The Anthropology of East Europe Review: Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Eurasia 21 (2): 15-23.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2003) "Are the kuláks back? Inherited Capital and Social Continuity in Mesterszállás, Hungary." in Distinct Inheritances: Property, Family and Community in a Changing Europe , edited by Hannes Grandits and Patrick Heady, 329-346. Münster: Lit.
  • Thelen, Tatjana (2003) "'The son of a fox is a fox, the son of a dog a dog': Forms of capital and local perception of success in a Hungarian village." in Breaking the wall: Representing anthropology and anthropological representations in post-communist Eastern Europe , edited by Viorel Anastasioae, 205-228. Cluj-Napoca: EFES.