Antropologicheskij forum. 2016. No. 29. Summaries and keywords


Colour Perception among Russian and Komi Speakers in the Komi Republic, Russia: On the Relation between Language and Thought

By Kirill Istomin, Irina Ilina, Oleg Ulyashev

It has been argued that linguistic color categories, despite the fact that their number can vary between languages, are themselves universal and based on physiologically conditioned distinctions. Recently it has been demonstrated that Russian speakers, whose language has separate terms for light and dark blue, discriminate between objects of corresponding hues faster than English speakers. In our study, we tested if language also physiologically conditions more sound discrimination between cold and warm hues. We compared Russian speakers to speakers of Komi language, where green and yellow make up one category, and there is only one category for blue. Russian speakers outperformed Komi speakers in discriminating between light and dark blue objects as well as yellow and green objects. However, Komi speakers were faster in discriminating yellow and green objects than light and dark blue objects. Therefore, language influences discrimination between warm and cold hues, but this effect is weaker in the case of two cold hues.

Keywords: color perception, language and cognition, Basic Color Terms (BCT), Finno-Ugric languages, Slavic languages, Komis, Russians.


Samples of Everyday Speech in a Dead Language: Russian Phrasebook in Hebrew of 19th Century

By Sofia Yampolskaya

This article aims to analyze everyday Hebrew dialogues, printed in the Manual of the Russian Language by Zalkind Epshteyn (1869). The status of the Hebrew language of the 19th century — whether it was a dead language or not so much — still remains disputable. Within this framework, the manual represents a curious source that contradicts common knowledge on Hebrew language usage before its revival. The analysis of the manual begins with a survey on everyday Hebrew lexis (part 2) and on the dialogue topics (part 3). Enlightenment pragmatics of the book limited the possible variety of topics. Therefore dialogues describing communicative situations of a lower status, such as trade, for example, are quot ed from other sources. For a key feature of conversational speech I have chosen the system of address form, which is outlined in part 4. Honorific forms of address, detected in the manual, were compared with corresponding forms in other Hebrew sources of the period (part 5), with T-V distinction in Polish (part 6) and German (part 7) languages. The article ends with a brief overview of T-V distinction in the Hebrew language of the former and following periods.

Keywords: history of modern Hebrew, Maskilic Hebrew, T-V distinction, forms of address, honorific forms in Hebrew, dead language, spoken language.


The Dynamics of Russian Barter Trade with Alaskan Natives 1741–1867

By Andrei Grinev

This article is devoted to the dynamics of the barter trade between Russians and natives of Alaska under the Russian Empire. During the first stage of colonization, the Russians (unlike the English and the French), did not tend to barter trade because they preferred to catch the main riches of Alaska, especially the valuable furs, using their own hands, or obtain them by exploiting local people in hunting parties using non-economic coercion to work and debt bondage. Moreover, the trade between the Russians and natives was complicated by the chronicle deficit of wares, the high cost of delivery, relatively narrow assortment, and the prohibition of selling firearms and alcohol (with few exceptions). As the author demonstrates, during the Russian colonization of Alaska, three different systems of barter trade with their own dynamics formed. At the same time, the fur trade of the Russians in Alaska, though relatively profitable on the whole, was less effective than the trade operations of American and British traders, their competitors. The development of fur trade had a dramatic effect on the fate of many native people, but at the same time it helped to put an end to intertribal conflicts and improved the life of native people by affecting their material culture.

Keywords: Alaskan natives, Russian colonization, Russian America, barter trade, commercial competition, material culture.


On the Occasion of Vladimir Bogoras’ 150 Anniversary

In lieu of an Introduction

By Dmitry V. Arzyutov and Nikolai Vakhtin

This essay by Dmitry Arzyutov and Nikolai Vakhtin introduces a collection of papers dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Vladimir Bogoras. It presents the short biography and bibliography of Bogoras. It discusses his (and his colleague Lev Shternberg’s) contribution to the formation of Arctic (Siberian) anthropology in St Petersburg, and the ambivalent character of Bogoras’ personality, a “two-faced Janus” as he called himself.

Keywords: Vladimir Bogoras, St Petersburg school of ethnography, Arctic anthropology.


Sofia Bogoras (1870–1921): Towards a Sketch Portrait of Vladimir Bogoras

By Elena Mikhailova

The paper presents the little that is known about Sofia Bogoras — the wife of Vladimir Bogoras. It has appeared possible due to the memoirs of Vladimir Vladimirovich Bogoras – the son of Vladimir and Sofia Bogoras. The manuscript up to now was not introduced into scientific circulation. It was well known that Sophia accompanied her husband to Far North during the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Owing to strong character, common sense, knowledge of people and life experiences purchased during her long residence in Kolyma region prior the expedition, Sofia was able to act as quite autonomous and active member of the Russian team. Her contribution to the excellent results of the expedition was quite significant. After the expedition Sofia completely moved away from the scientific and social activities of her husband. Vladimir Bogoras was a public figure, a well known scientist, a litterator. He was well-educated, brilliantly talented person with the widest range of communication. She was smart and sophisticated by nature, but the level of her education and narrow range of interests did not conform to the status of her husband after the Kolyma, where they had got to know each other and married. Furthermore Sofia was seriously ill, she had tuberculosis. Energetic spiritual, political, literary, scientific life of Vladimir Germanovich was held outside his home and his family. The role of Sofia in the intellectual biography of Bogoras wasn’t quite visible, but it was very significant in his private life.

Keywords: Sofia Bogoras, Vladimir Bogoras, biography, Jesup North Pacific Expedition.


The Bogoras Project: The Quest for Fire

By Nikolai Vakhtin

This paper deals with the early history of ethnographic education in Petrograd-Leningrad in 1915–1929 and with the struggle that one of the leaders of the process, Vladimir Bogoras (together with his friend and ally Lev Shternberg), led for many years to establish and support this education. At the time, Bogoras was a leading figure in Siberian ethnography, who had spent more than 10 years in remote parts of North-Eastern Siberia as a political exile, and later as a member of the famous Jesup North Pacific Expedition. In shaping the curricula of ethnographic education, he borrowed extensively from his personal experience, insisting that students must spend at least “one ethnographic year [two summers and one winter] in the field,” that the students must learn and use the languages of the people whose cultures they study, and that academic research must go hand in hand with practical “applied” work for the benefit of the people. Bogoras promoted and implicated these principles with amazing energy and persistence, despite the challenges of the time and direct opposition of the authorities. This paper is based on both published and archival sources (primarily from the Bogoras Fund, and the Archives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg).

Keywords: Vladimir Bogoras, history of Arctic anthropology, history of ethnographic education.


“Penelope’s Cloth”: The Bogoras Project from the Late 1920s–1930s

By Elena Liarskaya

This paper focuses on the history of the Leningrad ethnographic school in the 1920s–1930s. In Leningrad at that time, there were a number of institutions that had been founded by Vladimir Bogoras or with his active participation, such as the Faculty of Ethnography at the Geographical Institute at Leningrad State University, the Institute of the Peoples of the North and its predecessors, the Academic Research Association of the Institute of the Peoples of the North, the “Northern” Faculty of the Herzen Pedagogical Institute, etc. Based on both archival and published materials, the author argues that all these institutions were not uncoordinated and separate, but were established as parts of a well thought-out and integrated system created in order to merge research with practical tasks of modernization in the Far North. The article brings together and streamlines all the known facts about these institutions by using sources that are disconnected and sometimes hard to find. To some extent, the general picture that emerges from this analysis refutes the stereotype that ethnography in the Soviet Union in general, and in Leningrad in particular, ceased to exist after the infamous “discussion” of 1929.

Keywords: history of anthropology, Leningrad ethnographic school, Institute of the Peoples of the North, Academic Research Association of the Institute of the Peoples of the North, Northern Faculty of the Herzen Pedagogical Institute, Vladimir Bogoras.


The Ethnographer(s) with a Cine-Camera in Their Hands: The Prokofievs and the Beginning of the Visual Anthropology of Samoyeds

By Dmitry V. Arzyutov

This article describes Georgiy and Ekaterina Prokofiev’s expedition to the Bol’shezemel’skie Nenets and their experience of filming documentary chronicles in the late 1920s — the early 1930s. The Prokofievs’ records are a unique piece of the visual anthropology of the Samoyedic peoples. Referring to the available archival documents (field diaries, letters, museum documentations) and published memoirs of the colleagues of the Prokofievs, it is assumed that the chronicles were filmed at the expense of the cooperation agreement signed by Franz Boas and Vladimir Bogoras in New York in 1928. This article offers a reconstruction of Prokofiev’s fieldwork experience and his accounts on the early history of collectivization. In this regard, the cinematic chronicles and a collection of photos taken in the field are treated as a visual conceptualisation. The available studies of the visual anthropology of the USSR suggest that the documentary chronicles by the Prokofievs filmed in 1929–1930 are the first cinematic records produced by ethnographers in the Soviet Arctic.

Keywords: Soviet ethnography, documentary, Arctic, Nenets, Boas, Prokofievs, collectivization.



Religious Charisma from the (Dis)Enchanting Viewpoint of the Social Sciences: A Review of Charles Lindholm (ed.), The Anthropology of Religious Charisma: Ecstasies and Institutions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 248 pp.

By Sergei Shtyrkov

This collection of articles can be considered as a recurrent endeavor to present a theoretical and ethnographical basis for using a Weberian concept of primary charisma in analysis of religious life in different social contexts. This endeavor seems very risky because the very term ‘charisma’ is widely used in day-to-day communication and mass media discourse (and one can name this process the real routinization of charisma). There is also the problem that the term became a very important element of contemporary religious language aimed to present someone’s religious experience and vocation as authentic. Yet one can assume that those ‘genuine’ religious feelings are or can be understood to be socially constructed. Therefore, despite the editor’s enthusiasm for good perspectives for using the concept of primary charisma, some other authors gives examples of presenting secondary (institutional) forms of religious activity in terms of primary charisma to legitimize them as coming from above. Ironically it turns out that in the theoretical and temporal respect, secondary forms of charisma are more primary ones than those that we usually treat as primary after Weber.

Keywords: Anthropology of religion, primary charisma, institutional charisma.


Disgust and Milk of Kindness: А Review of Valerie Curtis, Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat: The Science behind Revulsion. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013, 184 pp.

By Maria Stanyukovich

The reviewed book treats disgust as a model emotion that shields humans from “body-snatchers” — parasites and viruses. While understandable from the point of view of virologists and hygienists, Valerie Curtis’ arguments are not too convincing for anthropologists. Bodily fluids, which the author treats as universal objects of fear and disgust, are not perceived by traditional cultures as dangerous, but as potent substances, malevolent or benevolent in different situations. While sharing the ability of other bodily fluids to spread infections, milk and tears have exemplary positive connotations in human culture, which gives them no place in the reviewed book.

Keywords: disgust, anthropology of the body, ethology, epidemiology, hygiene, body liquids, human behavior, emotions.


Speak, Cultural Memory: А Review of Mikhail Rodionov, Cultural Memory and Metered Speech in Southern Arabia: Ḥaḍramawt. St Petersburg: Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography Press, 2014, 154 pp.

By Maxim Vasilenko

This review discusses a new monograph by Mikhail Rodionov, a Saint Petersburg orientalist who has been studying the anthropology of the Arab world for half a century. He has dedicated the last thirty years to Yemen and poetry in its local dialects. The review explains the significance of the book for Arabic studies and for the methodology of the study of cultural memory. It defines the place of the monograph among the other works by the author and other contemporary studies on tribal Arabic poetry.

Keywords: Tribal poetry, Yemen, Arab culture.


Martin Pegler, Soldiers’ Songs and Slang of the Great War. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2014, 408 pp.; Pervaya mirovaya voyna v ustnom i pismennom tvortshestve russkikh krestyan: Po materialam Pushkinskogo Doma [The First World War in Oral and Written Works of Russian Peasants: Materials of the Pushkin House]. St Petersburg: Pushkinsky Dom Press, 2014, 584 pp.

By Rustam Fakhretdinov

This review compares Martin Pegler’s Soldiers’ Songs and Slang of the Great War and The First World War in Oral and Written Works of Russian Peasants. Both books pioneer in representing the folklore of the First World War in the context of British and Russian popular culture. They include not only works that soldiers composed during the war, but also works they used, such as songs by professional songwriters and posters by professional artists. Authors hadn’t ignored obscene folk texts. Both books do not have a bibliography. The first book is criticized for publishing folk texts without comments, which eliminates their scientific value and reduces the field of application. The second book lacks a general introduction to logically connect thematically scattered chapters and to elucidate the background of the topic. Some authors of this book use questionable terminology and cultural stamps. Their articles are more descriptive than they are analytical.

Keywords: First World War, folklore, popular culture, songs, slang.


In Memoriam

Yury Yuryevich Karpov (06.06.1956 — 01.09.2015)

By Makka Albogachieva

Yury Yuryevich Karpov was the leading expert on the history, ethnography, and culture of the peoples of the Caucasus from the second half of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st. This obituary includes biographical data and the main milestones of his artistic career and research. In large part, his contribution to Russian science is connected with his field studies on the peoples of Dagestan and their ethnocultural context. Karpov’s research is of great interest to ethnographers, historians, politicians, and any reader who is interested in the Caucasus. The author also notes the significant contribution Karpov made to the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography with both subject collections, and the photographic materials from his field work in the Caucasian region.

Keywords: Dagestan, history, ethnography, anthropology, culture, politics, migration, sociocultural and ethnosocial processes in the Caucasus.