6. The Saga of the L. H. Morgan Archive, or How an American Marxist Helped Make a Bourgeois Anthropologist the Cornerstone of Soviet Ethnography
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149 6 The Saga of the L. H. Morgan Archive, or How an American Marxist Helped Make a Bourgeois Anthropologist the Cornerstone of Soviet Ethnography There is no archive without a place of consignation, without a technique of repetition, and without a certain exteriority. No archive without outside. Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, 1998 The Archive and the “Outside” TherearetworeasonswhyavolumededicatedtothememoryofGeorge W. Stocking Jr. is, in our opinion, the most appropriate venue for this chapter.First,itsAmericanauthorstudiedwithGeorgeattheUniversity ofChicagoanddevelopedastronginterestinthehistoryofanthropology under his influence.1 It was Stocking who encouraged him to take advantage of his knowledge of Russian and explore the history of the relationship between Boas and his Russian colleagues, such as Vladimir Bogoraz and Lev Shternberg. A paper about Shternberg written in Stocking’s seminar eventually grew into a monograph on Shternberg’s life and scholarly contributions (Kan 2009). One important lesson many of Stocking’s students learned from him is that an anthropologist ’s scholarly ideas develop within larger sociocultural, intellectual, political,andinstitutionalcontexts,withinwhichheorshematuresand lives, and for that reason a historian of anthropology should explore them rather than focus exclusively on anthropological theories. Likewise, Stocking’s writings became inspirational for the Russian coauthor of this chapter. Thanks to the impact of Stocking’s work, Arzyutov was able to find a new common language with his Sergei A. Kan and Dmitry V. Arzyutov 150 Sergei A. Kan and Dmitry V. Arzyutov senior colleagues in Russia and understood better the logic of their past and present theoretical discussions about ethnos and ethnogenesis . This “participant observation” helped him explore the relational complexity between the academic laboratory and the field in greater depth.2 Second,aswelearnfromGeorge’slastbook(Stocking2010),driven by strong pacifist views, he joined the Communist Party in 1949 while anundergraduateatHarvard.Aftersevenyearsoflisteningtodogmatic speeches, taking part in “self-criticism” sessions, and making fruitless efforts to bring Communist ideas to the working class, George quit the party in 1956 and went to graduate school. As he repeatedly states throughhisbook,Khrushchev’srevelationsaboutStalin’scrimesplayed a major role in Stocking’s parting with Communism. The one good thingthatresultedfromGeorge’slargelynegativeexperienceasaCommunistwas ,inouropinion,thewayhelearnedtothinkcriticallyabout and do historical research, that is, what he referred to as “historicism” (Stocking 2010:75). Bernhard J. Stern, the main protagonist of our chapter, shared some characteristics with Stocking. He too was a historian of anthropology (as well as an anthropologist and a sociologist), and he authored the first book-length biography of L. H. Morgan. Stern was also a member of the Communist Party, having joined it in the mid-1930s. However , unlike Stocking, he remained a diehard Communist believer and a staunch advocate of Stalin’s Soviet Union; Stern’s blind allegiance to it would not be undermined by the show trials of the late 1930s or the Stalin-Hitler Pact of 1939. Moreover, his political views affected some of the scholarly work he did. Our chapter is about one specific important episode in his professional life. By the beginning of the 1920s, a number of Soviet research institutes , the main one among them being the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, were involved in the process of collecting papers, letters, and diaries of the founders of Marxism. This was one of the key projects of the early “Stalinist science” legitimizing political ideology and the significance of the social sciences in the country (Krementsov 1997). A major starting point for the construction of Soviet Marxism was the two important purchases by the Soviet authorities: the archive of The L. H. Morgan Archive 151 Marx and Engels and the Morgan archive. All the documents of these “foundingfathers”ofMarxismnotonlyplayedascientificrolebutwere a form of Bourdieuian “symbolic capital” for both the authorities and the academic bureaucracy (Bourdieu 1977:171–183). In this chapter we outline a complicated history of the purchase of the Morgan archive: when, how, and why it happened. We explain the acquisitionofthismajorintellectualproduct,especiallyinthecontextof itstransferfromthecapitalistWesttothesocialistEast.Wealsoaddress the political significance of this purchase and the role of Stern’s enormous efforts to locate, duplicate, and transfer the entire body of Lewis Henry Morgan’s unpublished papers (as well as the books and other publications by and about him) from the archive of the University of Rochester Library to the Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography (iae) in Leningrad. Finally, we discuss the reasons for Stern’s dedication to a project for which he earned very little money. Drawing on published sources and data from American and Russian archives, we explorethereasonsfortheSovietanthropologists’keeninterestinMorgan , their evolving relationship with Stern, and the project’s ultimate fiasco. Thus, in the tradition of Stocking’s...


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