Department of Ethnology and Museology

Department of Ethnology and Museology

History of the Department


Lectures in ethnography given at the Faculty of Arts in 1921 were the first university lectures of its kind in Czechoslovakia. The field was founded by Karel Chotek, professor of general ethnography, as part of geography studies. Since 1922, Prof. Chotek directed the School of General Ethnography which was renamed the School of Czechoslovak Ethnography in 1924. Prof. Chotek worked at the Faculty of Arts until 1932 and in the 1927/1928 academic year acted as its dean. When he left the department, ethnography ceased to be taught at the faculty. Ethnography lectures were again offered between 1936 and 1939, given on a part-time basis by Assoc. Prof. Vilém Pražák as part of history studies. Ethnography, in particular folklore studies, was also taught as part of Slavic studies by Assoc. prof. Peter Grigorievich Bogatyriov. It was Slavic studies, most prominently the Slavic School, that helped courses in ethnography to be offered while the field did not exist as a separate study programme. An example of the generous help was, for example, the significant collection of folk poetry managed by Prof. Frank Wollman between 1928 and 1942.

In the 1940–1943 period, ethnography lectures at the faculty were held by Prof. Bruno Schier. After that, the ethnography school was closed down for some time. It was reopened in 1947 and Assoc. Prof. Andrej Melicherčík and Assoc. Prof. Rudolf Bednárik were hired as teachers. From 1950, the specialized school system at the faculty was replaced by individual departments offering study programmes. Ethnography was categorized under the Department of General History and Archaeology, later under the Department of Archaeology, Art History, Ethnography and Folklore Studies, headed for some time also by Prof. Bednárik. During this period, ethnography was continuously taught at the faculty and in 1969 the independent Department of Ethnography and Folklore Studies was founded by Assoc. Prof. Ján Podolák. He headed the department until 1970. Between 1970 and 1990, the department was headed by Assoc. Prof. Ján Michálek, between 1990 and 1997 by Assoc. Prof. Ľubica Droppová, between 1997 and 2003 by Assoc. Prof. Milan Leščák, and since 2003 Assoc. Prof. Marta Botíková has acted as department head. In 1993, the department changed its name to the Department of Ethnology, and in 2003 to the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology.

In 1968, an ethnological research workplace was founded at the Faculty of Arts – the Ethnology Cabinet. Its founder Ján Podolák was also its first director (until 1975). He was replaced as cabinet director by Assoc. Prof. Emília Horváthová. After 1980, the cabinet was incorporated into the Department of Ethnology as a section for academic research. Research material of the section is collected in the documentation record of the department which contains more than 20,000 photographic negatives and slides, research texts and drawings.

After 1968, the department organized the first seven international seminars (Seminarium ethnologicum) under the leadership of Ján Podolák. The seminars were intended for ethnology students and their professors from European universities. It was basically a summer school focused on field research. Since 1971 nine Slovak-Polish student seminars have been held (alternately in Bratislava and Poznan) under the direction of Jozef Ušak. Since 1999, the department has been part of the CEEPUS project and network, and since 2003 it has keenly collaborated with other parties in Erasmus, the international student exchange programme.

Since 1969, the department has published Ethnologia Slavica, an international collection of essays by Slavic ethnologists (since 1993 called Ethnologia Slovaca et Slavica). Ján Podolák was the first editor-in-chief of this collection of academic works, and since 1996 this position has been held by Magdaléna Paríková.

In 1990, a religious studies section started to take shape within the department. It separated from the department in 2003 as the independent Department of Comparative Religious Studies.

In 1997 the department initiated that an independent Centre for Cultural Anthropology be established at the faculty. The centre existed until 2001 and hired mostly teachers and researchers from the Department of Ethnology.

Within the department, museology has been a separate field of study since 1996. It is part of the department’s curriculum, but offers its own study programmes.