Who owns Siberian ethnography?

A critical assessment of a re-internationalized field

in Sibirica
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  • 1 University of Alaska, Fairbanks
  • 2 European University at St Petersburg, Russia
  • 3 University of Alaska, Fairbanks
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Although Siberian ethnography was an open and international field at the turn of the twentieth century, from about 1930 until the late 1980s Siberia was for the most part closed to foreigners and therefore to Western ethnographers. This allowed Soviet ethnographers to establish a virtual monopoly on Siberian field sites. Soviet and Western anthropology developed during that period in relative isolation from one another, allowing methodologies and theoretical approaches to diverge. During glasnost' and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Siberian field was reopened and field studies were conducted by several Western ethnographers. The resulting encounter between Western and former Soviet ethnographers in the 1980s and 1990s produced a degree of cultural shock as well as new challenges and opportunities on both sides. This is an experiential account of the mood of these newly reunited colleagues at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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