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An Empire of Others

Creating Ethnographic Knowledge in Imperial Russia and the USSR

Edited by Roland Cvetkovski and Alexis Hofmeister

Publication Year: 2014

Ethnographers helped to perceive, to understand and also to shape imperial as well as Soviet Russia’s cultural diversity. This volume focuses on the contexts in which ethnographic knowledge was created. Usually, ethnographic findings were superseded by imperial discourse: Defining regions, connecting them with ethnic origins and conceiving national entities necessarily implied the mapping of political and historical hierarchies. But beyond these spatial conceptualizations the essays particularly address the specific conditions in which ethnographic knowledge appeared and changed. On the one hand, they turn to the several fields into which ethnographic knowledge poured and materialized, i.e., history, historiography, anthropology or ideology. On the other, they equally consider the impact of the specific formats, i.e., pictures, maps, atlases, lectures, songs, museums, and exhibitions, on academic as well as non-academic manifestations.

Published by: Central European University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction: On the Making of Ethnographic Knowledge in Russia

Roland Cvetkovski

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pp. 1-22

As globalization has started crossing common boundaries and has given priority to traffic, transfer, and communication, discontent has also arisen. The rapid circulation of ideas, goods, and values seemed to counteract the need for differentiation, since the previous emphasis on national entities...

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Imperial Case Studies: Russian and British Ethnographic Theory

Alexis Hofmeister

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pp. 23-48

The European attention to groups, classified as “others” in a horizontal sense of geography and culture as well as in a vertical sense of social customs and chronology, continuously increased since the Age of Discovery.1 This particular fascination of the modern European self with the non-civilized...

Part I: Paradigms

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Russian Ethnography as a Science: Truths Claimed, Trails Followed

Alexei Elfimov

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pp. 51-80

Whether ethnography is a science has been a subject of perennial questioning, and perhaps this fact in itself implies that ethnography is probably not one—at any rate, as far as the mainstream contemporary understanding of “science” goes. Yet it has always sought to be one. Whether in the...

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Beyond, against, and with Ethnography: Physical Anthropology as a Science of Russian Modernity

Marina Mogilner

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pp. 81-120

In sharp contrast to half-forgotten Russian physical anthropology, Russian ethnography has always been a legitimate subject of historical research. In some sense, the focus on ethnography and its cultural categories (such as narodnost’) prevented historians of imperial Russia from noticing and...

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Ethnography, Marxism, and Soviet Ideology

Sergei Alymov

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pp. 121-144

In the history of Soviet ethnography, the introduction of Marxism is among the few episodes that have repeatedly attracted the attention of scholars. Indeed it is (or appears to be) among the most exhaustively studied such episodes. This is quite understandable, for this turning point considerably...

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Ethnogenesis and Historiography: Historical Narratives for Central Asia in the 1940s and 1950s1

Sergey Abashin

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pp. 145-168

In 1947, at the climax of Stalinist rule, the Academy of Sciences of the Uzbek SSR in Tashkent published the second volume of the History of the Peoples of Uzbekistan.2 Of this three volumes planned for this work, the second volume was published earliest. The editor of the second volume...

Part II: Representations

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Symbols, Conventions, and Practices: Visual Representation of Ethnographic Knowledge on Siberia in Early Modern Maps and Reports

Maike Sach

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pp. 171-210

As cultural artifacts, pictures and images play an eminent role in ethnography in different European and non-European communities and societies using different concepts of images and codes of communication. Pictures (and also immaterial mental images) are thus objects of ethnological research...

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Empire Complex: Arrangements in the Russian Ethnographic Museum, 1910

Roland Cvetkovski

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pp. 211-252

If self-reflection marks the first step toward wisdom, then self-knowledge could certainly pass for the achievement of wisdom. Nikolai M. Mogilianskii, ethnographer and head of the Russian Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg from 1910 to 1918, must have had something similar...

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Learning about the Nation: Ethnographic Representations of Children, Representations of Ethnography for Children

Catriona Kelly

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pp. 253-278

Russian anthropology (or, as it was known until recently, etnografiia) has historically fixed its gaze on Russian culture itself. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (and into the twenty-first), the discipline was a forum for the discussion and representation of ideas about national...

Part III: Peoples

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Siberian Ruptures: Dilemmas of Ethnography in an Imperial Situation

Sergey Glebov

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pp. 281-310

The very word “Siberia” is contentious. Originating in the post-Mongol Tatar khanates, “Siberia” never had clear political or geographical boundaries. While it began beyond the Urals and was delimited in the north by the Arctic Ocean, it was never clear whether the steppes of present...

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Concepts of Ukrainian Folklore and the Transition from Imperial Russia to Stalin’s Soviet Empire

Angela Rustemeyer

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pp. 311-340

Defined as “the people’s activity”, often with a focus on non-material culture,1 Ukrainian folklore has been the major object of Ukrainian ethnography as a branch of scientific research. It has also been in the focus of national identity-building in the Russian Empire, in Soviet Ukraine, and...

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No Love Affair: Ingush and Chechen Imperial Ethnographies

Christian Dettmering

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pp. 341-368

The history of the Caucasus and its conquest is also a history of the mutual impact of ethnographic knowledge and politics in the Russian Empire. With the Caucasus an ethnically and linguistically highly complex region became part of the Russian Empire. And because of its ethnic and...

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National Inventions: The Imperial Emancipation of the Karaitesfrom Jewishness

Mikhail Kizilov

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pp. 369-394

Situated at the junction of the trade routes leading from Italy and Byzantium (and later the Ottoman Empire) to Poland, Russia, and the countries of the East, the Crimea had always been an attractive place for carrying out international trade. After the Ottoman conquest of 1475, the peninsula...

List of Contributors

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pp. 395-400


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pp. 401-407

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9786155225772
Print-ISBN-13: 9786155225765

Page Count: 415
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: 1