Anya Bernstein

Anya Bernstein

Anthropologist, 2021-22 Berggruen Fellow

Biography

Anya Bernstein is Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. Her first book, Religious Bodies Politic: Rituals of Sovereignty in Buryat Buddhism (University of Chicago Press, 2013), was the winner of the Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, from the American Academy of Religion, and an Honorable Mention for the Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies, from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (2014). Her second book, The Future of Immortality: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia (Princeton University Press, 2019), explored the interplay between ideas about immortality and life-extension industries across the Soviet Union and postsocialist Russia, drawing on archival and ethnographic methods to investigate these technoscientific and religious futurisms. This book received the 2020 William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology, from the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, American Anthropological Association. Her current book project, tentatively titled Pleistocene Park: Extinction and Eternity in the Russian Arctic, extends her previous work on technoscience and future scenarios in Russia to issues of climate change and geoengineering, by chronicling the efforts of a transnational team of scientists to “resurrect” an extinct ecosystem in Arctic Siberia. As a visual anthropologist Bernstein has directed, filmed, and produced several award-winning documentary films on Buryat Buddhism and shamanism, including Join Me in Shambhala (2002) and In Pursuit of the Siberian Shaman (2006).