Dmitrii Alekseevich Olderogge

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ol’derogge, Dmitrii Alekseevich


Born Apr. 23 (May 6), 1903, in Vilnius. A founder of Soviet African studies; specialist in the ethnology, history, languages, and culture of the peoples of Africa. Corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1960).

Ol’derogge graduated from Leningrad University in 1925. In 1927–28 he studied languages, ethnology, and museum presentation in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He is the head of the African Division of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. He began teaching in 1939. He has been a professor and head of the sub-department of African studies at Leningrad University since 1945 and head of the African Section of the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR since 1947. His main works are devoted to the problems of social structure, kinship systems, culture, and languages of the peoples of Africa. Among them are The Circular Kinship Relation, or Three-clan Alliance (1946), The Malay Kinship System (1951), The Nkita System (1960), and Basic Features of the Development of Kinship Systems (1960). The process of the historical and cultural development of the African peoples is examined in the works Origin of the Peoples of the Central Sudan (1952), Antiquities of Benin (vols. 1–3, 1953–57), Art of the Peoples of West Africa in Museums of the USSR (1958), The Western Sudan in the Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries (1960), and Negro Art (1969).

In studying the origin and interrelationships of the languages and peoples of the Western Sudan, Ol’derogge sharply criticized the racist Hamitic theory of the origin of those peoples (The Hamitic Problem in African Studies, 1949; Colonial Society, 1973; and others). Descriptions of the grammatical structure of African languages are dealt with in the works Determination of Time and Space in the Bantu Languages (Locative Classes) (1937) and The Hausa Language (1954). Languages and Writing Systems of the Peoples of Africa (1963) and On Certain Ethnolin-guistic Problems of Africa (1969) are devoted to the classification of African languages.

Ol’derogge is a member of international and foreign national scholarly societies, including the French Society of Africanists and the International African Institute. He is a corresponding member of the School of Oriental and African studies (London) and many academies. He has been awarded the Order of Lenin and two other orders.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.