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TROPIU BOGORAZA: NAUCHNYE I LITERATURNYE MATERIALY.

TROPIU BOGORAZA: NAUCHNYE I LITERATURNYE MATERIALY [On Bogoraz' Path: Collected Scientific and Literary Materials]. Edited and collated by L.S. BOGOSLOVSKAIA, V.S. KROVOSHCHEKOV, and I.l. KRUPNIK. Proceedings of the Chukotka Branch of the North-Eastern Integrated Research Institute, Far Eastern Division, Russian Academy of Sciences 10. Moscow: Heritage Institute-Geos, 2008. ISBN 5-86443-123-X.352 p., maps, b&w illus., appendices, list of contributors. In Russian, with Summary and Table of Contents in English. Softbound.

This large-format volume, edited by three of the foremost experts on Chukotka, is one of the most important recent collections on the history and culture of the indigenous peoples of this region and one of the more interesting collections on the history of science in Russia's Far East. The collection is framed as if it were a sort of festschrift to mark the work and legacy of the well-known Russian ethnographer Vladimir Germanovich Bogoraz (1865-1936). However, almost two-thirds of the volume consists of previously unpublished or reprinted articles from difficult-to-access periodicals on the lives of Russian Cossack, Chukchi, and Siberian Yupik peoples written by scholars who had very little connection to the legendary ethnographer. Previously unpublished transcriptions of accounts from authoritative elders and the work of indigenous historians and scholars form a significant portion. The volume also presents samples from previously unpublished photographic collections. This already rare volume (published in 600 copies with a publication subsidy from a local merchant) will be well coveted by anyone interested in this region.

Formally, the volume is divided into five sections: a short section on Bogoraz and his students, a second section on Chukot reindeer herders, a third section on Chukot sea-mammal hunters, a general section on the traditional culture and languages of the region, and a final archival section that presents two previously unpublished reports. It must be said that this formal division is somewhat artificial. The book features republished work of Bogoraz in all but the last section, and each of the sections on Chukot native peoples tends to combine articles that would easily fit in one of the other themed sections. In fact, one gets the impression that the sections were originally designed as four or five separate collections, which were brought together into one volume to take advantage of a rare opportunity to bring this material to the public. There are 48 selections in the collection.

Of special interest to readers will be a series of articles by Vladislav Nikolaevich Nuvano on the history of various Chukot villages and regional groups. There is an interesting set of first-hand accounts of the resistance to collectivization in the region uniquely balanced with two archival accounts from the Russian officials in charge of these operations. The section devoted to sea-mammal hunters dominates the volume and presents the largest range of material, with what it would seem to be unpublished or at least untranslated work by Krupnik, Bogoslovskaia, and their local consultants. The work here ranges from overviews of traditional hunting brigades to a nutritional analysis of local diets. The fourth section presents an interesting collection of new and in some sense radical analyses of traditional toponymics (A.A. Kochnev), a set of articles on mortuary ceremony (V.N. Nuvano, S.S. Gagarin), and a rather strange "debate" between two linguists, Australian Michael Dunn and St. Petersburg-based Aleksei Alekseevich Burykin, on the legacy of the Soviet school of linguistic research. The history of Bogoraz' scientific legacy that frames the volume (most of which has been published previously) takes a revisionist stance. Underscoring the fact that the bulk of Bogoraz' scientific work was published in English, it implies that those Russian scholars who followed him, although their contribution is rarely acknowledged, contributed most to the contemporary state of knowledge about Chukotka's Native people published in Russian. The strongest article in this section is the previously published biography of Bogoraz' student Aleksandr Forstein (1904-68), which includes what I understand to be a previously unpublished set of his photographs.

The English summary of the volume follows the structure of the Russian preface, but unlike the latter, places its emphasis on "the golden core" of the living memory of Chukotka's elders. The English table of contents likewise has been edited to stress the connection between Chukotkans and Alaskan Native peoples by opting to use the spelling of Siberian Yupik names used in Alaska.

Beyond its unique content, this book is an interesting milestone in itself in the history of Russian ethnography. It is one of only a few works published in Russian that attempt to place primary texts from authoritative elders at front stage (this genre is much better known in North America than in Eurasia). Further, it styles itself as a continuation of a window of reform in Russia by publishing critical accounts of collectivization and by contributing to the rehabilitation of previously repressed scholars. The editors correctly note that this style of academic publishing has carved a rather deep niche for itself in Western and Central Siberia but has been conspicuously silent in the Far East. The guiding metaphor--that of being a collection that follows Bogoraz' path--implies that the authors here are continuing the work the Bogoraz started during his exile and contract research in the Imperial period and during his zenith in the heady days of the early Soviet period. By reintroducing Russian readers to a fragment of Bogoraz' opus published overseas, the editors hope to bridge the gap that was introduced when scientific contact with North American and European "bourgeois" scholars was cut. To that end, the Russian-language contribution by the only foreign scholar is an interesting case. Dunn presents a well-documented criticism of one of the fundamental grammars of the Chukot language, identifying the structural formalism of Russian linguistic science as an obstacle to the true understanding and reproduction of a living language. The article is followed by an unreferenced and rather unscholarly rebuttal by Burykin questioning the linguistic competence of the author (and the scientific competence of indigenous scholars besides) and criticizing him for not knowing the tangled institutional history of the St. Petersburg-based linguists that lay behind this one unfortunate text. Bogoraz himself certainly suffered for daring to criticize authorities. One wonders if the editors of this volume should have been so enthusiastic about clearing and remarking all of his paths.

David G. Anderson

Institutt for arkeologi og sosialantropologi

HSL fakultetet

Universitetet i Tromso

9049 Tromso, Norway

david.anderson@uit.no
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Author:Anderson, David G.
Publication:Arctic
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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