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Regular version of the site

190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel, Room 123

Phone:+7 (812)786-92-49 

Postal address: 
190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel

Department Head Adrian A. Selin
Academic Supervisor Evgeniy Anisimov
Remembering the Neoliberal Turn: Economic Change and Collective Memory in Eastern Europe after 1989

Gökarıksel S., Gontarska O., Hilmar T. et al.

L.: Routledge, 2023.

Сholera Riots in Staraia Russa in 1831. People and the Authorities: Actions, Motives, Concerns
In press

Belan M.

Slavonic and East European Review. 2024. Vol. 102. No. 2.

Book chapter
The Stolbovo Treaty and Tracing the Border in Ingria in 1617–1618

Adrian Selin.

In bk.: Sweden, Russia, and the 1617 Peace of Stolbovo. Vol. 14. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2024. P. 99-118.

Working paper
The Image of the Past in Ciro Spontone’s ‘Historia Della Transilvania’

Khvalkov E., Levin F., Кузнецова А. Д.

Working Papers of Humanities. WP. Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ, 2021

History of Russian and Soviet Ethnography

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Delivered by:
Department of History
Elective course
1 year, 3 module


Course Syllabus


This course aims to critically explore the history of ethnography in Russia by examining the different ways in which this history has been told. We begin by discussing why the history of the discipline should be written in the first place, and how a history written by someone ‘inside’ the discipline might differ from one written by someone ‘outside’ it. With this in mind, our focus will be on specific topics: the concept of fieldwork and its genealogy, the transition from bourgeois ethnology to Marxist ethnography, studies of the contemporaneity and its exhibiting in museums, the functioning of ethnographers’ archives and field documents, etc. Moving slowly towards the present times, we will turn to works written at the intersection of history and anthropology, and consider how the history of ethnography is being used by practitioners of the discipline in the present.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To introduce students to the main approaches to writing the history of Soviet and Russian ethnography, as well as to the main features of the discipline in Russia itself
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the problems involved in writing the history of anthropology, and the peculiarities of the field
  • To be familiar with the main features and peculiarities of the development of ethnography in Russia
  • Knowing the variants and approaches to writing the history of Soviet and Russian ethnography
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • seminar #1. why do disciplinary histories matter (and who should write them)?
  • seminar #2. writing disciplinary histories in Russia
  • seminar #3 & #4 Soviet nationality policy, marxism and ethnographic knowledge
  • seminar #5 & 6 fieldwork in Soviet ethnography
  • seminar #7 anthropologists and their archives
  • seminar #8 ethnographic facts and Soviet ‘writing culture’
  • seminar #9 & #10 (a-)symmetrical gaze: history (and anthropology) of anthropology as history of discovering the Other
  • seminar #11 ethnographies as texts
  • seminar #12 critical paradigm for the history of anthropology? (final discussion)
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Questions for discussion
    questions for discussion (3-5) prepared once during the course (select any seminar except the first introductory one and final colloquium). Once during the course, you should formulate a list of questions (3-5) based on the assigned seminar readings to initiate discussion in class. You can work in pairs, which is particularly useful when two seminars cover the same topic (e.g. seminars #5&6, #9&10). Additional materials, such as context you missed from the readings, are also welcome. Please send your questions in advance (email me and students), preferably by Friday afternoon but no later than Friday evening before class on Saturday. The idea is that once during the course you will work more closely with the text and will help to lead an in-class discussion based on the questions you have prepared.
  • non-blocking Exam paper
    The exam paper is a review essay which covers one book or two (and more) articles closely related to the course topics. A list of the articles and books to be reviewed will be provided in advance. Alternatively, you can search for a suitable book or articles on your own. If you choose the latter option, please inform me before finalizing your decision so that I can ensure the text’s suitability. You are welcome to refer to the readings covered during the course if they are helpful in supporting your argument. Exam paper length: 2500-4000 words.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2023/2024 3rd module
    0.7 * Exam paper + 0.3 * Questions for discussion


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Marcus, G. E. (1995). ETHNOGRAPHY IN/OF THE WORLD SYSTEM: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology, 24(1), 95–117. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.24.100195.000523

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Robin M. Boylorn, & Mark P. Orbe. (2014). Critical Autoethnography : Intersecting Cultural Identities in Everyday Life. Routledge.