Golovnev A. V. Ethnography in the Russian Academic Tradition

Andrei V. Golovnev
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Saint Petersburg, Russia
E-mail: Andrei_golovnev@bk.ru


 Download  |  Go to Issue #1. 2018


ABSTRACT. The author of the first major comprehensive ethnographic survey is Johann Gottlieb Georgi, who published A Description of All the Nationalities That Inhabit the Russian State in 1776–1780. Early ethnographic papers are characterized by: (1) putting a focus on a people, or indeed all peoples, so that they become central in the narrative. Georgi made an ‘ethnic portrait of the Empire’, thus creating an image of the multiethnic Russia; (2) the significance of imagery (drawing of a costume) for the description of a people; (3) the ethnography was born in expedition, and not in office. In the 20th century national movements, together with ethnographic knowledge, played a pivotal role in the Revolution and the emergence of the USSR as a union of peoples; the first decade of the Soviet regime was marked with the nation-building and ethnic studies. In early 1930s, when the ruling elite became firmly established and no longer needed national movements and serious ethnic studies, ethnography fell out of political favour and became a secondary historical discipline. During repressions Soviet ethnographers were deeply engrossed in the subject of ethnogenesis, which gave rise to the theory of ethnos, crowned with the discussion of the 1970s with Julian Bromley and Lev Gumilev as the main opponents. In Russia, ethnography has always been based on real circumstance and need. 


KEYWORDS: ethnography, anthropology, ethnos, Russia, Empire, Soviet making of the nation, ethnogenesis, history of science


УДК 39:930.1(470)
DOI 10.31250/2618-8600-2018-1-6-39



  • Alpatov V. M. Istoriya odnogo mifa: Marr i marrizm [The Story of One Myth: Marr and Marrism]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 1991, 240 p. (in Russ.).
  • Alymov S. S. [Ukrainian Roots of the Theory of Ethnos]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie [Ethnographic Review], 2017, no. 5, pp. 67–84. (in Russ.).
  • Alymov S. S., Arzyutov D. V. [Marxist Ethnography in Seven Days: Meeting of Ethnographers from Moscow and Leningrad and Discussions in the Soviet Social Sciences in the 1920s–1930s]. Ot klassikov k marksizmu: soveshchanie etnografov Moskvy i Leningrada (5–11 aprelya 1929 g.) [From Classics to Marxism: the Meeting of Ethnographers from Moscow and Leningrad (5–11 April 1929)]. St. Petersburg: Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the RAS Publ., 2014, pp. 21–90. (in Russ.).
  • Anderson B. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London; New York: Verso, 1983, 240 p. (in English).
  • Arutyunov S. A. Narody i kultury: razvitie i vzaimodeystvie [Peoples and Cultures: Development and Interaction]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 1989, 247 p. (in Russ.).
  • Asad T. Afterword: From the History of Colonial Anthropology to the Anthropology of Western Hegemony. Colonial Situations: Essays on the Contextualization of Ethnographic Knowledge. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1991, pp. 314–324. (in English).
  • Bassin M. The Gumilev Mystique: Biopolitics, Eurasianism, and the Construction of Community in Modern Russia. New York: Cornell Univ. Press, 2016. 400 p. (in English).
  • Belyakov S. S. Gumilev syn Gumileva [Gumilyov’s Son Gumilev]. Moscow: “Astrel” Publ., 2012, 797 p. (in Russ.).
  • Bogoraz V. G. [On the Application of the Marxist Method to the Study of Ethnographic Phenomena]. Etnografiya [Ethnography], 1930, no. 1–2, pp. 3–56. (in Russ.).
  • Chernetsov V. N. [Essay on the Ethnogenesis of the Ob Ugrians]. Kratkie soobshcheniya Instituta istorii materialnoy kultury [Brief Reports of the Institute of the History of Material Culture], 1941, vol. 9, pp. 18–28. (in Russ.).
  • Chistov Yu. K. [Ethnographical collections of Kunstkamera (1714–1836). A Question of the Institutionalization of Ethnography as a Scientific Discipline in Russia]. Ural’skij istoriceski vestnik [Ural Historical Journal], 2017, no. 4 (57), pp. 136–143. (in Russ.).
  • Elert A. Ch. Narody Sibiri v trudakh G. F. Millera. [The Peoples of Siberia in the Works of G. F. Müller]. Novosibirsk: Instit. of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian branch of the RAS Publ., 1999, 240 p. (in Russ.).
  • Etnologiya. Uchebnoe posobie [Ethnology. Teaching Aid]. Moscow: Akademicheskiy proekt, Alma Mater Publ., 2006, 640 p. (in Russ.).
  • Galtung J. Scientific Colonialism: The Lessons of Project Camelot. Transition, 1967, no. 5–6 (30), pp. 10–15. (in English).
  • Golovnev A. V., Kisser T. S. [Empire Ethnoportrait in P. S. Pallas and I. G. Georgi’s Works]. Ural’skij istoriceski vestnik [Ural Historical Journal], 2015, no. 3 (48), pp. 59–69. (in Russ.)
  • Golovnev A. V. Fenomen kolonizatsii [Phenomenon of Colonization], Ekaterinburg: Ural branch of the RAS Publ., 2015. 592 p. (in Russ.).
  • Gough K. Anthropology: Child of Imperialism. Monthly Review, 1968, vol. 19, no. 11, pp. 12–27. (in English).
  • Harley J. B. The New Nature of Maps: Essays in the History of Cartography. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2001, 334 p. (in English).
  • Heidemann F. Ethnologie. Eine Einführung [Ethnology. An Introduction]. Göttingen: Vandehoek und Ruprecht Publ., 2011, 285 s. (in German).
  • Kan S. Lev Sternberg: Anthropologist, Russian Socialist, Jewish Activist. Lincoln; London: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2009, 551 p. (in English).
  • Köhler M. Russische Ethnographie und imperial Politik im 18. Jahrhundert [Russian Ethnography and Imperial Politics in the 18th Century]. Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2012, 299 s. (in German).
  • Kopaneva N. P. [D. G. Messerschmidt’s Research Journey as Part of Peter I Description of the Russian State Projects]. Ural’skij istoriceski vestnik [Ural Historical Journal], 2016, no. 2 (51), pp. 44–52. (in Russ.).
  • Manshteysh Kh. G. [Memoirs about Russia]. Perevoroty i voyny [Revolutions and Wars]. Moscow: Fond Sergeya Dubrova Publ., 1997, 576 p. (in Russ.).
  • Marr N. Ya. Izbrannye raboty [Selected Works]. Moscow; Leningrad: AN SSSR, 1933, vol. 1, 437 p. (in Russ.).
  • Martin T. An Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939. New York: Cornell Univ. Press, 2001, 496 p. (in English).
  • Nashchokin V. A. [Memoirs]. Imperiya posle Petra (1725–1765) [The Empire after Peter (1725–1765)]. Moscow: Fond Sergeya Dubrova Publ., 1998, pp. 325–384. (in Russ.).
  • Ot klassikov k marksizmu: soveshchanie etnografov Moskvy i Leningrada (5–11 aprelya 1929 g.) [From Classics to Marxism: the Meeting of Ethnographers from Moscow and Leningrad (5–11 April 1929)]. St. Petersburg: Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the RAS Publ., 2014, 511 p. (in Russ.).
  • Pelikh G. I. Proiskhozhdenie selkupov [Origin of Selkups]. Tomsk: Tomsk State Univ., 1972, 424 p. (in Russ.).
  • Pels P. What Has Anthropology Learned from the Anthropology of Colonialism? Social Anthropology, 2008, vol. 16 (3), pp. 280–299. (in English).
  • Prokofev G. N. [Ethnicity of the Peoples of the Ob-Yenisei Basin]. Sovetskaya etnografiya [Soviet ethnography], 1940, no. 3, pp. 67–76. (in Russ.).
  • Reshetov A. M. [Repressed Ethnography: People and Fates]. Kunstkamera. Etnograficheskie tetradi [Kunstkamera. Ethnographic notebooks], 1994, iss. 4, pp. 185–221. (in Russ.).
  • Shirokogoroff S. M. Etnograficheskie issledovaniya: Etnos. Issledovanie osnovnykh printsipov izmeneniya etnicheskikh i etnograficheskikh yavleniy [Ethnographic Research: Ethnos. Study of the Basic Principles of Changing Ethnic and Ethnographic Phenomena]. Vladivostok: Far Eastern Univ. Publ., 2002, book 2, 148 p. (in Russ.).
  • Shnirelman V. A. [A Poor Fate of the Discipline: Ethnogenetic Studies and Stalin’s Ethnic Policy]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie [Ethnographic Review], 1993, no. 3, pp. 52–68. (in Russ.).
  • Slezkine Yu. Arctic Mirrors: Russia and the Small Peoples of the North. New York: Cornell Univ. Press, 1994, 456 p. (in English).
  • Solovey T. D. Ot «burzhuaznoy» etnologii k «sovetskoy» etnografii. Istoriya otechestvennoy etnologii pervoy treti XX v. [From “Bourgeois” Ethnology to “Soviet” Ethnography. The History of Domestic Ethnology of the First Third of the 20th Century]. Moscow: Instit. of Ethnology and Anthropology of the RAS Publ., 1998, 298 p. (in Russ.).
  • Stagl J. A History of Curiosity: The Theory of Travel 1550–1800. New York: Harwood Academic Publ., 1995, 344 p. (in English).
  • Suny R. G. [The Empire as it is: the Imperial Period in the History of Russia, the “National” Identity and the Theory of the Empire]. Natsionalizm v mirovoy istorii [Nationalism in World History]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 2007, pp. 36–81. (in Russ.).
  • Suny R. G. The Revenge of the Past. Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press 1993, 224 p. (in English).
  • Tishkov V. A. Rekviem po etnosu. Issledovaniya po sotsialno-kulturnoy antropologii [Requiem for the Ethnos: Studies on Social-Cultural Anthropology]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 2003, 544 p. (in Russ.).
  • Tokarev S. A. [The First Composite Ethnographic Work on the Peoples of Russia: From the History of Russian Ethnography of the 18th Century]. Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta. Istoriko-filologicheskaya seriya [Bulletin of Moscow University. Historical and Philological Series], 1958, no. 4, pp. 113–127. (in Russ.).
  • Tokarev S. A. [The Origin of the Yakut People]. Kratkie soobshcheniya Instituta istorii materialnoy kultury [Brief Reports of the Institute of the History of Material Culture], 1941, vol. 9, pp. 58–62. (in Russ.).
  • Tokarev S. A. [To the Formulation of Problems of Ethnogenesis]. Sovetskaya etnografiya [Soviet ethnography], 1949, no. 3, pp. 12–36. (in Russ.).
  • Tokarev S. A. Istoriya russkoy etnografii (Dooktyabr’skiy period) [History of Russian Ethnography (Before the October Revolution)] Moscow: Librokom Publ., 2012, 456 p. (in Russ.).
  • Tunkina I. V., Savinov D. G. Daniel Gotlib Messershmidt: U istokov sibirskoy arkheologii [Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt: At the Origins of Siberian Archaeology]. St. Petersburg: OOO “ElekSis” Publ., 2017, 168 p. (in Russ.).
  • Udaltsov A. D. [The Initial Period of East Slavic Ethnogenesis]. Istoricheskiy zhurnal [Historical Journal], 1943, no. 11–12, pp. 67–72. (in Russ.).
  • Udaltsov A. D. [Theoretical Bases of Ethnogenetic Research]. Izvestiya AN SSSR. Ser.: Istorii i filosofii [Proceedings of the AN SSSR. Ser.: History and Philosophy], 1944, iss. 1, no. 6, pp. 252–265. (in Russ.).
  • Vermeulen H. F. Before Boas: the Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment. Lincoln; London: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2015, 720 p. (in English).
  • Vishlenkova Ye. A. Vizualnoe narodovedenie imperii, ili Uvidet russkogo dano ne kazhdomu [Visual Ethnology of the Russian Empire or “Not Everyone is Able to See the Russian”]. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2011, 384 p. (in Russ.).
  • Zhabreva A. E. [Images of the Costumes of the Peoples of Russia in the Works of Scientists of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences of the 18th Century]. Spravochno-bibliograficheskoe obsluzhivanie: traditsii i novatsii [Reference-Bibliographic Service: Traditions and Innovations] St. Petersburg: Library of the RAS Publ., 2007, pp. 201–214. (in Russ.).
  • Zolotarev A. M. [Ethnography in Moscow]. Sovetskaya etnografiya [Soviet Ethnography], 1934, no. 4, pp. 118–119. (in Russ.).