The institution was established in 1946 as the Ethnographic Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Arts, which was affiliate to the Historical Institute in 1951. After the establishment of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in 1953, the Ethnographic Cabinet was established and was renamed to the Institute of Ethnography SAS in 1955. Since 1993, it was called the Institute of Ethnology SAS and, based on the recommendation of the international accreditation commission, it was renamed the Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology SAS in 2018. In 2022, it was transformed into a public research institution.
From the expert point of view, the Institute concentrates on the analysis of social relationships from the local and global perspective with a focus on the Slovak and Central European context. The fields of scientific interest include research on cultural traditions and ways of life, as well as social, cultural, and material aspects of the economic and political transition after 1989 in rural and urban environments. Special emphasis is placed on phenomena of collective identities, memory, ethnicity, religion, minorities and migration, and cultural heritage. Our research projects follow current global theoretical and methodological trends and approaches.
The institute has long focused on problem-oriented research responding to current regional and global social topics and issues. International co-operation involves projects on socio-economic transition and structural social changes: current challenges and problems of families at the different stages of the life-cycle of their members, population ageing, poverty, inclusion of minorities, conspiracy theories, the Holocaust, religions in Slovakia in the late modernity period, etc.
The Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology SAS is an external educational institution that conducts doctoral study programmes in the field of “World Cultures and Religions” and “Social Anthropology”. The Institute of Ethnology SAS develops active co-operation with various external public administration and third-sector institutions and organisations. It is involved in applied projects focusing on the evaluation of local and state policies and the seeking of new creative solutions, civil society development, and the integration of excluded social groups.
According to the organisational rules of the IESA SAS, the Institute is headed by the Director who, in order to ensure scientific and research activities and management of the Institute, appoints a Deputy Director and Scientific Secretary. In addition to the Institute´s management, the main bodies of the IESA SAS as a public research institution include the Boards of Directors, the Academic Board, and the Supervisory Board. The Director’s Council is an advisory body to deal with issues related to the management of scientific projects that require collective assessment. The Director establishes special work committees to perform specialised tasks (e.g. Ethics Committee, Inventory Committee).
The Institute includes as its part the Information and Documentation Section which consists of the Library and Scientific Collections with an extensive scientific archive of text, picture, and multi-media documents. The Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology SAS houses the editorial office of the scientific journal Slovenský národopis/Slovak Ethnology and collaborates with the Ethnographic Society of Slovakia and the Slovak Society for the Study of Religions.
The Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology SAS consists of a discipline, gender- and age-balanced team of ambitious professionals. The Institute has implemented the SAS Gender Equality Plan and the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R).