KAREL CHOTEK A CEROVO: OD INICIACE K SPECIALIZACI (CAUSERIE K PŮLSTOLETÉ PROMĚNĚ TERÉNNÍHO VÝZKUMU)
Karel Chotek and Cerovo: From initiation to specialisation (Causerie on the half-century long transformation of field research)
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This paper is about the monograph on the Slovak village Cerovo, published in 1906 by Karel Chotek, the first professor of ethnography at the Comenius University in Bratislava and the pioneer of qualitative field research in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and later in Czechoslovakia. Following Lubor Niederle’s demographical data published in the map of the Slovak community living in Hungary, Cerovo, a village in the Hont region, shows Chotek’s first attempt to cover the set of questions related to the monograph’s focus on people in their cultural setting via field research and direct experience. Though still partly immersed in stereotypes related to Czech utilitarian conceptualisation of Slovak collective identity, Chotek’s monograph shows the first step on the way to an ambitious serial (though mostly unfulfilled) project of regional monographs, known as Národopis lidu českoslovanského (The Ethnography of Czechoslavic People, 1918–1940). In the early 1950s, working already as a professor of Slavic and general ethnography at the Charles University in Prague since 1931, Chotek returned to Cerovo with an idea of a new, comparative and reconceptualised focus on the same settlement as a half century before. Even though he did not succeed in completing this new monograph, his experience inspired a number of students at the Charles University, who later pursued Chotek’s field research inspiration as important figures of Czech and Slovak ethnography during the rest of the 20thcentury (the so-called “Chotek school”). Besides rethinking the events related to the Czecho-Slovak relationship in the formative decade of professional scientific ethnography in Czech lands before World War I and, last but not least, analysing the so far unknown context of Chotek’s second expedition to Cerovo in 1953,the picture of Chotek developing his field research method from a descriptive analysis to a more structured circle of special questions/issues in the 1950s is an attempt to capture some of the methodological changes Czechoslovak ethnography went through during the first half of the 20thcentury.
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