Dolgikh Boris

Boris Osipovich Dolgikh, a 20th-century Soviet anthropologist, was a key figure in establishing Siberian studies at the Institute of Ethnography in Moscow. Since the early 18th century, St Petersburg (Leningrad, 1924-1991) had been the center of Russian anthropology in general and Siberian anthropology in particular. When Moscow resumed as capital of Russia again in 1918, the city began to establish more anthropological institutions. After World War II, the headquarters of the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union moved to Moscow. Siberian ethnography at the Moscow institute started with an informal group of enthusiasts for the North, which had been in existence since 1944. The group received official standing in 1954, and, in 1956, became the Sector for the Study of Socialist Reconstruction among the Peoples of the North. Dolgikh served as the first chairperson of the new group from 1956 through 1965.

Dolgikh's extensive, scholarly contributions cover such diverse fields as ethnic history, folklore, social organization, and ritual. The geographic focus of his research activities included the Siberian North, in particular, the areas inhabited by the Ket, Nenets, Enets, and Nganasan. Dolgikh's key text The Clan and Tribal Composition of the Peoples of Siberia in the Seventeenth Century (Dolgikh, 1960) derived from his doctoral work and thesis in 1947. The text combines ethnohistory and historical demography based on records of fur tribute (yasak) collected during the 17th century. In addition to a variety of other historical records, Dolgikh used the demographic results of the Polar Census of 1926-1927 to arrive at estimates of the ratio between the number of male adult yasak payers and the total population. His research resulted in population estimates for most Siberian peoples of the late 17th century as well as in a map indicating the spatial distribution of these groups. Subsequent research has proven Dolgikh's reconstructions to be astonishingly accurate for most parts of Siberia, except for regions that had not yet been under Russian political control at the time (e.g., Chukotka). Dolgikh's work also resulted in clarifications regarding the relationship between administrative and genealogical clans, as well as in theoretical contributions to the study of social and political organization among the indigenous peoples of Siberia.

Dolgikh additionally edited a number of defining Soviet works on Siberian ethnography during the 1960s. Volumes four and five of the Siberian Ethnographic Anthology appeared under his editorship, as well as books about contemporary economic and cultural conditions (Dolgikh, 1960) and about social organization in the Siberian North (Gurvich and Dolgikh, 1970). Dolgikh's work served as a programmatic guideline for most Siberian studies at the Moscow Institute of Ethnography well into the 1980s. His emphasis on ethnogenesis and ethnic history, on issues of social organization, as well as on contemporary conditions in the North became the hallmark of the so-called Moscow School of Siberian Anthropology.

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