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Who owns Siberian ethnography?

A critical assessment of a re-internationalized field

Patty Gray, Nikolai Vakhtin, and Peter Schweitzer

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.

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Alexander D. King, David G. Anderson, Tatiana Argounova-Low, Cathryn Brennan, Patty A. Gray, and Joachim Otto Habeck

This special issue of Sibirica is guest-edited by Joachim Otto Habeck, and the Editors applaud his work to bring together this excellent group of papers resulting from a conference he organized at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. Dr Habeck is Coordinator of the Siberian Studies Centre at the MPI, which is now well established as a key institution in the anthropology of Siberia. The conference included scholars from several disciplines, and thus publication in Sibirica seemed to be the perfect choice, reflecting the journal’s commitment to cross-disciplinary conversations on the region.

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Alexander D. King, David G. Anderson, Tatiana Argounova-Low, Cathryn Brennan, Patty A. Gray, and Joachim Otto Habeck

This issue of Sibirica is the last to be published with Taylor and Francis. The Editors would like to thank Richard Delahunty and Liz Eades at Taylor and Francis for their kind assistance during this difficult time of transition. This issue also marks the last volume for David Collins as Reviews Editor. John Ziker, Boise State University, USA, has taken up the mantel for Volume 5, and all correspondence regarding book reviews should be sent directly to him at JZiker@boisestate.edu.