cultural anthropology

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Related to cultural anthropology: social anthropology

cultural anthropology

[¦kəl·chə·rəl an·thrə′päl·ə·jē]
The division of anthropology dealing with the study of all aspects of culture.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

cultural anthropology

(US) the ANTHROPOLOGY of human cultures. It is distinguished from UK SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY by virtue of its focus on the artefacts and practices of particular peoples rather than social structures, although the difference is easily overstated. In practice, this has meant a tendency to stress the material basis of culture, though ideational senses of culture are also important and are represented in cognitive and symbolic anthropology.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cultural Anthropology


(Russian, etnografiia), the social science that studies peoples and other ethnic communities, the process of their ethnic formation, their ways of life, and their cultural and historical relations. The Russian term etnografiia encompasses both ethnography and ethnology; although a cognate of the term “ethnology” exists in Russian (etnologiia), it is rarely used. In the present article, therefore, etnografiia is rendered as “cultural anthropology,” “ethnography,” or “ethnology,” depending on the context; cultural anthropology is understood to subsume ethnology and ethnography. In referring to cultural anthropology in the USSR and the socialist countries, the term “ethnography” is used in virtually every case to cover both descriptive and theoretical studies of the peoples of the world.

Cultural anthropology takes as its principal subject the features of the traditional everyday culture of a people—those traits that, viewed as a whole, constitute a people’s distinctive ethnic character. Its data are for the most part obtained through direct observation of the life of a people; such information comes from a variety of sources, including studies carried out in the field over an extended period of time, research conducted on expeditions, and assembled collections. Data from questionnaire surveys are also used. In conjunction with other sciences, notably archaeology and history, cultural anthropology attempts to retrace ethnic history and to provide a picture of the primitive communal system; in order to construct a model of the primitive communal system, scientists study vestiges of the system among contemporary peoples.

Cultural anthropology is related to art studies and folklore studies in its investigation of folk arts and to economic science and sociology in its investigation of economic activity and social structure. It is linked to linguistics in its study of problems of linguistic affinity and influences. Geographic data are used in its study of the interaction of an ethnic community with the community’s natural surroundings, in the study of settlement patterns, and in the drawing of ethnographic maps. Migrations and population are studied with the help of demography, and the processes of ethnic formation are investigated by both cultural and physical anthropology. Cultural anthropology poses and solves theoretical and practical problems pertaining to the ethnic aspects of, for example, the restructuring of a people’s everyday life, contemporary ethnic processes, the formation of new nations (natsii, nations in the historical sense), and the struggle to overcome vestiges of the past.

In foreign countries. The accumulation of ethnographic knowledge began in remote antiquity, with the awakening of interest in neighboring and faraway peoples. The Bible, the inscriptions of the ancient Oriental kings, and other sources mention numerous tribes and peoples; depictions of the members of these tribes and peoples have been preserved in works of art. Such classical authors as Herodotus, Xenophon, Pliny the Elder, and Tacitus, whose geographic horizons were broadened by Greek colonization and Greco-Roman conquests, produced the first logically organized descriptions of other peoples and their ways of life. Strabo’s Geography (end of the first century B.C. to first century A.D.) mentions more than 800 peoples, inhabiting lands from the British Isles to India and from North Africa to the Baltic Sea. Such works as the Historical Records of Ssu-ma Ch’ien (first century B.C ) contain information on the peoples of East Asia.

During the Middle Ages, Byzantine and Arab authors and Western European chroniclers left descriptions of the peoples of Europe and the Mediterranean. The travels of Piano Carpini, William of Rubruquis, and, above all, Marco Polo provided medieval Europe with new knowledge of the peoples of East and South Asia.

Ethnographic knowledge expanded rapidly during the age of the great geographic discoveries, which began in the mid-15th century. In the Americas and Africa, Europeans encountered tribes of unknown origin and of an alien culture and appearance. The descriptions of regions in the Americas by such Spaniards as C. Columbus, B. de Las Casas, and D. de Landa are important for cultural anthropology, because to a considerable extent the Indian population, notably the Maya and Incas, and culture were destroyed in the course of the European conquest.

During the colonial conquests and geographic discoveries of the 17th and 18th centuries the Dutch, English, and French came into contact with the North American Indians and with the aboriginal peoples of Oceania, Australia, and Africa. Information about the North American Indians was recorded primarily by French missionaries, such as F. Lafitau; the aborigines of Oceania were described by such navigators as J. F. La Perouse and J. Cook.

In the late 18th century, attempts were made to interpret scientifically the ethnographic data that had been accumulated. J.-J. Rousseau and D. Diderot idealized primitive society, regarding it as the happy childhood of the human race. C. Montesquieu asserted that customs and manners are shaped by geographic surroundings. Voltaire and A. Ferguson proposed the idea of cultural progress, and J. G. Herder affirmed the intrinsic value of the culture of every people.

An interest in the ethnography of the European peoples developed in the early 19th century, when the term Volkskunde was coined. German folktales and folk songs were published by L. J. von Arnim and the brothers Grimm. The works of such writers as J. Grimm and W. Mannhardt on folk beliefs and German mythology provided the foundation of the mythological school, which flourished from the 1830’s to 1870’s; the school derived folklore and folk customs from ancient mythology, which was based on nature worship.

By the mid-19th century cultural anthropology had emerged as an independent discipline. Ethnologic and ethnographic societies were founded in Paris (1839), New York (1842), and London (1843). The principal trend in cultural anthropology in the second half of the 19th century—the evolutionist school, represented by such figures as E. Tylor, A. Bastian, and L. H. Morgan— developed under the influence of the doctrine of evolution. The evolutionists believed that cultural development was uniform for all mankind, that culture evolved from lower to higher forms (for example, from savagery to civilization or from group marriage to individual marriage), and that cultural differences are a consequence of different stages of development. Although the evolutionist school was progressive for the 19th century, it nonetheless regarded history as the sum of the independent evolutions of particular cultural elements and derived the general laws governing development from the “psychic unity” of mankind (Bastian). Morgan, who came close to developing a materialist interpretation of history, linked social progress to the development of the means of subsistence.

The work of Morgan and the other evolutionists was used by the founders of Marxism in formulating their conception of prehistory. The basic propositions of the Marxist conception of primitive society and the emergence of class society are contained in F. Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884) and in such works of K. Marx and Engels as The German Ideology, Das Kapital, The Mark, and The Part Played by Labor in the Transition From Ape to Man. These propositions, which are fundamental to the methodology of cultural anthropology, influenced the science of cultural anthropology in the 19th century.

Beginning in the late 19th century, ethnographic observations were carried out chiefly by specialists. Important expeditions were sent to various regions, including islands in the Torres Strait (1898) and the northern part of the Pacific Ocean (1899–1902). Material was gathered in accordance with programs developed in advance. Reactionary trends that rejected the idea of the unity and progressive nature of the historical process appeared in cultural anthropology in the age of imperialism. K. Starcke, E. Westermarck, and H. Cunow tried to refute the conception of group marriage and show that the nuclear family had existed from the beginning. Father W. Schmidt advanced the theory of primeval monotheism, by which he sought to reconcile ethnographic discoveries about primitive beliefs with Christian dogma.

Diffusionism became an influential school; its adherents, who included F. Graebner and W. Rivers, replaced the idea of cultural development with the thesis that culture spreads geographically from developed centers, such as ancient Egypt, and is borrowed by other peoples. In the USA, the ethnographic school of F. Boas, whose adherents included A. Kroeber and P. Radin, did a great deal to advance the concrete ethnographic study of the Indians of North America and identified “cultural areals” and relations among such areals; the accurate recording of facts did not lead the school to make historical generalizations.

The French sociological school of E. Durkheim considerably influenced cultural anthropology in the early 20th century; its exponents, notably M. Mauss, relied on Durkheim’s concept of représentations collectives, or group ideas. L. Lévy-Bruhl formulated the theory of primitive “prelogical thinking,” which was based, he believed, on the mystical participation of man in nature.

After World War I, the British school known as functionalism, whose leading figures were B. Malinowski and A. Radcliffe-Brown, developed under the influence of French cultural anthropology. The functionalists regarded culture as a system of institutions that perform essential social functions. They studied culture synchronically, believing historical research to be unimportant. The British colonial administration made use of the school’s conclusions in establishing “indirect government” over subject populations.

The most reactionary trend in the bourgeois cultural anthropology of the 1930’s and early 1940’s was racism, the official ideology of Hitlerite Germany. The doctrine of the “master race” was intended to legitimize the fascists’ imperialist ambitions.

In the USA the methodology of Freudianism, which influenced cultural anthropology beginning in the early 20th century, provided a foundation for the ethnopsychological school, whose adherents included A. Kardiner and R. Benedict. The school considered the development of a particular culture to be directly dependent on the average psychological type of the bearers of that culture. After these ideas had been criticized in the 1950’s, the cultural relativism of M. Herskovits and the neoevolutionism of J. Steward and L. White emerged as new trends in cultural anthropology in the USA.

In the postwar period, cultural anthropology in most of Western Europe has developed in two directions. The study of one’s own people and its neighbors is represented by such figures as S. Erixon. The second trend—the study of non-European peoples—has been dominated by structuralism. The followers of Radcliffe-Brown are investigating structure, primarily the structure of archaic “traditional” societies. For anthropologists such as C. Lévi-Strauss, cultural traditions themselves, such as myths and rituals, are considered to be sign systems and are studied using the methods of structural linguistics and information theory.

Cultural anthropology dealing with the Slavs has become a separate discipline in the 20th century; general works have been written by L. Niederle, K. Moszyrński, and J. Cvijić.

In the second half of the 20th century the number of cultural anthropologists in such Asian countries as Japan, India, and Turkey has increased, and the scientific level of their work has improved markedly. The principal subject of investigation in these countries is the origin, ethnic history, and culture of the main people of the country; minority peoples are also studied.

In the African countries, notably Senegal, Niger, Ghana, and Uganda, cultural anthropologists are devoting much attention to the history and historical unity of the African cultures, to ties with the cultures of other continents, to traditional social institutions, and to folk arts.

The influence of Marxism is increasingly evident in the research of many foreign scientists. Special seminars are held, lectures delivered, and books published on the methodology of historical materialism in cultural anthropology. Important figures include R. Firth in Great Britain; M. Godelier, J. Suret-Canal, and R. Makarius in France; W. Oswalt in the USA; and E. Ishida in Japan. At the Ninth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in Chicago in 1973, a special symposium on problems of Marxist cultural anthropology was organized.

Marxism is the predominant methodology in the ethnography of the socialist countries, where work is done on the study and mapping of material culture, and research is carried out on urban life and on the everyday life of workers. Ethnosociological investigations are conducted, and the ethnography of non-European countries is studied. Ethnographic research is coordinated among the socialist countries, and other forms of cooperation are practiced.

In prerevolutionary Russia and the USSR. Ethnographic information about the peoples of Eastern and Western Europe, including information on their languages and customs, was contained in such texts as the Russian chronicles and The Tale of Igor’s Campaign. Records of the travels of Russian pilgrims to Palestine, such as those of the hegumen Daniil, acquainted readers with countries of the Middle East. In the second half of the 15th century, Afanasii Nikitin visited India and left an account of its customs in his Journey Beyond the Three Seas.

The emergence of a multinational Russian state in the 15th and 16th centuries led to an increase in ethnographic knowledge. Russian zemleprokhodtsy (explorers), sluzhilye liudi (military servitors), and, subsequently, peasants reached Siberia in the 17th century, and eventually traveled as far as extreme northeastern Asia. The Siberian chronicles and other sources contain information on the peoples of Siberia. Of special importance are the works of S. U. Remezov, who compiled the first atlas of Siberia, the Siberian Sketchbook, in which the names of peoples are recorded on maps. Remezov also wrote “Description of the Siberian Peoples,” fragments of which have been preserved. In 1675, Spafarii, head of the Russian embassy in China, compiled a detailed description of that country.

In the early 18th century G. I. Novitskii wrote one of the world’s first specialized ethnographic works: A Short Description of the Ostyak People, which deals with the Khanty. Several large scientific expeditions were mounted in the 18th century, notably the Great Northern Expedition of 1733-43, whose objectives included the study of the Siberian peoples. Information about the Siberian peoples was gathered on the basis of a questionnaire drawn up by V. N. Tatishchev, who was the first to propose that the peoples be grouped according to language; this principle underlies their contemporary classification. G. F. Miller, who headed one of the expedition’s land parties, wrote A History of Siberia, and S. P. Krasheninnikov, who took part in the expedition, left the valuable Description of the Land of Kamchatka (1775).

The expeditions sponsored by the Academy of Sciences between 1768 and 1774 produced abundant material pertaining to the ethnography of Russia. Works by members of the expeditions include I. I. Lepekhin’s Journals, V. F. Zuev’s description of the Ostyaks and Samoyeds, and the historico-ethnographic information collected by P. S. Pallas on the peoples of Mongolia. The data accumulated on the expeditions made it possible for I. I. Georgi to prepare his four-volume survey Description of All Peoples Inhabiting the Russian State (1776–80). As interest in the ethnography of the Russians grew at the end of the 18th century, there appeared the first publications of Russian folklore, by such figures as M. D. Chulkov and M. V. Popov.

The circumnavigation of the globe by such explorers as I. F. Kruzenshtern (Krusenstern) and Iu. F. Lisianskii in the early 19th century constituted a landmark in the history of Russian ethnography. During these voyages the archipelagoes of the Pacific Ocean and the way of life of their aboriginal peoples were studied. Ethnographic knowledge was further widened by G. Langsdorf’s expedition to Brazil, Iakinf Bichurin’s studies in China, and the investigations of such explorers as I. Veniaminov and F. P. Wrangel in the Aleutian Islands and Alaska. In Russia, information on folk customs was gathered between 1819 and 1821 at the behest of M. M. Speranskii, governor-general of Eastern Siberia.

The first decades of the 19th century saw a division of ethnographic research, particularly regarding the Russian people, into two main schools. The first was the progressive, Enlightenment school of F. N. Glinka and N. A. Bestuzhev, who believed in improving the way of life of the peoples they studied. The second was the reactionary school, which idealized the patriarchal order and Orthodoxy; it was represented by I. M. Snegirev, I. P. Sakharov, and A. V. Tereshchenko, all of whom gathered extensive ethnographic material.

By the 1840’s enough data had been accumulated to justify the establishment of ethnography as an independent scientific discipline; the term “ethnography” appeared in journals. At the initiative of leading members of the Russian intelligentsia, the Russian Geographic Society was formed in 1845; its division of ethnography was headed initially by K. M. Ber and later by N. I. Nadezhdin. Russian ethnography began developing as part of the geographic sciences. The society’s division of ethnography distributed in all provinces programs for the ethnographic discretion of localities, villages, and districts; it published material from the approximately 2,000 manuscripts that were returned in Etnograficheskii sbornik (1853–64) and, later, in Zapiski rus-skogo geograficheskogo obshchestva po otdeleniiu etnografii.

From the 1840’s to the 1860’s expeditions and individual scientists were sent to various parts of the country by such organizations as the Russian Geographic Society and the Academy of Sciences. M. A. Kastren collected material pertaining to the ethnography and languages of the peoples of the north and Siberia. A. F. Middendorf studied Eastern Siberia. The members of the Literary Expedition (1856), who included the writers and ethnographers A. F. Pisemskii, A. N. Ostrovskii, and S. V. Maksimov, published material obtained on their travels through European Russia. V. V. Radlov studied the Turkic peoples of Southern Siberia and Middle Asia between 1860 and 1870.

Collectors of Russian folklore, notably V. I. Dal’, P. V. Kireevskii, P. N. Rybnikov, A. F. Gil’ferding, and A. N. Afanas’ev, were very productive. Such figures as P. S. Efimenko, P. I. Iakushkin, and I. G. Pyzhov collected material relating to peasant life.

An elaboration of the theoretical foundations of ethnography began in the mid-19th century. Representatives of the liberal bourgeois trend, such as Nadezhdin and K. D. Kavelin, limited the objectives of ethnography to historical knowledge; Kavelin likened folk beliefs to geologic strata. The revolutionary democrats, notably V. G. Belinskii, A. I. Herzen, and N. A. Dobroliubov, saw ethnography as a means of learning about the contemporary life of the people. N. G. Chernyshevskii ranked ethnography foremost among the historical disciplines because it gave an understanding of the “original form” of modern institutions. Anticipating the thinking of Morgan and other evolutionists, he wrote that “every tribe that stands at one of the stages of development between the most brutal savagery and civilization serves as a representative of one of the phases of historical life through which the European peoples passed long ago” (Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 2, 1949, p. 618).

Such ideas, although correct, were not widely accepted. The influence of the mythological school, represented by such figures as Afanas’ev, A. A. Potebnia, F. I. Buslaev, and O. Miller, became widespread in Russian ethnography.

After the Peasant Reform of 1861, studies on local lore were published, and local scientific societies and societies devoted to the study of local lore were founded. The Society of Lovers of Natural Science, Anthropology, and Ethnology (OLEAE; founded 1864) at Moscow University and the Society for Archaeology, History, and Ethnology (founded 1878) at the University of Kazan became new centers of ethnographic research. In 1867, OLEAE organized the All-Russian Ethnographic Exhibition, whose materials it subsequently turned over to the Rumiantsev Museum.

In the postreform era, ethnography turned its attention to social and family life and the rural commune. A number of problems involving traditional legal practices arose after the abolition of serfdom; such problems also became an object of ethnographic investigation. Useful studies of folk arts were made by such researchers as S. V. Maksimov, P. V. Shein, E. B. Romanov, V. N. Dobrovol’skii, and P. P. Chubinskii. Extensive research and collecting work were carried out in Siberia by such local ethnographers as D. Banzarov and G. Tsybikov and such exiled revolutionaries as I. A. Khudiakov, V. G. Bogoraz, L. Ia. Shternberg, and V. I. Jochelson.

The 1870’s witnessed increased study of foreign countries. N. M. Przheval’skii and G. N. Potanin, for example, traveled through Central Asia, I. P. Minaev went to India, and V. Iunker journeyed to Africa. N. N. Miklukho-Maklai, who devoted his entire life to research on the physical anthropology and ethnography of the population of Oceania, occupies a special place in the history of ethnography.

The chief school in cultural anthropology became evolutionism, whose most prominent representatives were M. M. Kovalevskii, the Kharuzin family, Shternberg, and D. N. Anuchin. The school took an interdisciplinary approach to historical studies, using the findings of archaeology, ethnography, and physical anthropology. Marxism was growing in importance. Its influence is evident in the work of Kovalevskii, who studied the patriarchal-family commune as one of the forms of disintegration of the primitive communal system; Engels emphasized the importance of this discovery. N. I. Ziber analyzed primitive collectivist production relations in his Essays on Primitive Economic Culture (1883).

At the end of the 19th century material culture—settlements, clothing, implements, and economic activities—began receiving serious study alongside folklore and social and family life. As a result, ethnographic museums were founded and expanded. The Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences—the largest museum—and the Rumiantsev Museum, where V. Miller was curator of the ethnographic collection, stepped up their scientific activities. The ethnographic department of the Russian Museum was established in 1902 with D. A. Klements as its head. Such ethnographic periodicals as Etnograficheskoe obozrenie (from 1889) and Zhivaia starina (from 1890) appeared.

Prince V. N. Tenishev’s private Ethnographic Bureau collected a great deal of material between 1898 and 1901. Scientific principles for the study of folklore were developed by B. M. Sokolov, Iu. M. Sokolov, A. N. Veselovskii, and Miller. Similar work was done in folk music: E. E. Lineva combined the notation of melody and text. Such composers as N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov and S. I. Taneev took part in the work of the Ethnomusicological Commission, which was established in 1901.

The considerable increase in the number of popular works in the early 20th century testified to the democratization of cultural anthropology. Books for the general public were written by such figures as E. I. Vodovozova, D. A. Koropchevskii, and Ia. A. Berlin. Joint publications and popular series appeared, notably The Peoples of the Earth (vols. 1–4, 1903–11) and The Peoples of Russia (1905), as well as the multivolume geographic publication Russia (1899–1914), edited by V. P. Semenov-Tian-Shanskii.

On the eve of the October Revolution of 1917, cultural anthropology presented a motley picture with regard to theory. New methods of research and analysis were needed, as A. N. Maksimov insistently pointed out.

The October Revolution of 1917 created favorable conditions for the development of an ethnographic science based on the humanistic and democratic heritage of prerevolutionary ethnography. The nature of postrevolutionary ethnographic research was determined by its close connection with the practical objectives of the multinational Soviet state. The establishment of national oblasts and okrugs and the transformation of the culture and way of life of backward peoples demanded a more careful study of the peoples involved. For this reason the Commission for the Study of the Tribal Composition of the Population of Russia and Adjacent Countries was created in 1917; from the commission the Institute for the Study of the Peoples of the USSR was established in 1930. Of great importance was the work, carried out between 1924 and 1935, of the Committee for Assistance to the Nationalities of the Outlying Northern Regions under the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee; the committee’s directors included Bogoraz. The journal Etnografiia was founded in 1926 and renamed Sovetskaia etnografiia in 1931. The Institute of Anthropology, Archaeology, and Ethnography was established in Leningrad in 1933 to coordinate work in ethnography and related disciplines; in 1937 it was reorganized as the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Postrevolutionary ethnography developed a historical materialist approach to the study of primitive society and culture; leading exponents were P. I. Kushner and V. K. Nikol’skii. In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s Soviet ethnography and most of the other social sciences were dominated by a debate on how to overcome theoretical disagreements and affirm Marxist principles; important discussions took place at the ethnographic conference of 1929 and the archaeological and ethnographic conference of 1932. A theoretical basis for Soviet ethnographic research was provided by V. I. Lenin’s works on the nationality question, the social structures and the noncapitalist path of development of backward peoples, and national culture and its class nature.

The ethnographic work of the 1930’s was based on Marxist-Leninist methodology. Ethnographers focused their attention on questions pertaining to social systems and on various forms of patriarchal and patriarchal-feudal relations. Several specialists, including E. G. Kagarov, E. Iu. Krichevskii, A. M. Zolotarev, and S. P. Tolstov, broadened the comparative historical study of such systems as the primitive communal system, matriarchy, and military democracy. At the initiative of Shternberg and Bogoraz, the collection of ethnographic data in the Far North was carried out on a large scale by a number of investigators, including E. Iu. Kreinovich, A. A. Popov, and G. M. Vasilevich. The Soviet school of ethnography had formed.

From the 1950’s to the 1970’s, ethnographic research was conducted at such institutions as the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and at many scientific institutions, higher educational institutions, and museums of the Union and autonomous republics. Two primary lines of research have emerged: the study of the problems of prehistory and the historico-ethnographic study of the world’s peoples.

A knowledge of the history of primitive society, which is studied by ethnographers, archaeologists, and physical anthropologists, is important to the development of a correct world view. Extensive material has been brought to light that attests to the historical universality of the primitive communal system, and it has been shown, notably by Zolotarev, that dual organization was ubiquitous in prehistoric society. Study of the later forms of the primitive communal system has advanced considerably: the complex structure of the patriarchal clan has been established, and the historical types of the large and small family have been worked out.

Modern ethnographic data have made it possible for such specialists as D. A. Ol’derogge to paint a more precise picture of the development of family and marriage relations in prehistory and to rule out Morgan’s hypothetically reconstructed stages of the consanguineal and punaluan families. Such scientists as Tolstov, N. A. Butinov, M. O. Kosven, Iu. P. Petrova-Averkieva, A. I. Pershits, and Iu. I. Semenov have developed sophisticated ideas illuminating such issues as the periodization of the history of prehistoric society, the relationship between the clan and the commune, and the character of early forms of marriage relations.

Of great importance has been the analysis of problems of ethnic history by Soviet ethnographers, archaeologists, and physical anthropologists. An interdisciplinary approach has made it possible to make substantial advances in the study of specific questions pertaining to the origin of the peoples of the USSR. Problems of the origin of the peoples of Western Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Oceania are being investigated. Studies dealing with problems of ethnic history have shown that all modern peoples have been formed from various ethnic components and are of mixed ethnic composition; research in this area has invalidated theories of the racial purity and national exclusiveness of particular peoples.

Considerable attention has been devoted to the study of material culture—the history of the agricultural, technology, settlements, dwellings, and clothing of the peoples of the USSR and foreign countries. The material culture of the USSR has been studied by such ethnographers as E. E. Blomkvist, M. V. Vitov, N. I. Lebedeva, E. N. Studenetskaia, G. S. Maslova, and G. S. Chitaia. Special historico-ethnographic regional atlases are being compiled that incorporate the accumulated information pertaining to the history of the material culture of the peoples of the USSR: an atlas devoted to the peoples of Siberia (1961) has been published, and the atlas The Russians (parts 1–2, 1967–70) has appeared.

The study of folk arts has become considerably more extensive. Such specialists as S. V. Ivanov, V. N. Chernetsov, and S. I. Vainshtein have studied the visual arts, and various ethnographers, among them P. G. Bogatyrev, E. V. Pomerantseva, and V. Ia. Propp have investigated folklore. Questions of the history, origin, and early forms of religion have been studied by such figures as S. A. Tokarev, A. F. Anisimov, and B. I. Sharevskaia.

One of the most important techniques of historico-ethnographic research is the interdisciplinary study of peoples, which makes use of the findings of related scientific disciplines. Such ethnologists as Vasilevich, L. P. Potapov, and I. S. Gurvich have used this method to study the history of many previously illiterate Siberian peoples.

Important work has been done on the ethnography of the East Slavic peoples. Specialists dealing with the Russians have included V. V. Bogdanov, D. K. Zelenin, V. Iu. Krupianskaia, B. A. Kuftin, L. M. Saburova, and K. V. Chistov. The Ukrainians have been studied by such ethnographers as K. G. Guslistyi, G. E. Stel’makh, and V. F. Gorlenko. Leading investigators of the Byelorussians have included V. K. Bondarchik, M. Ia. Grin-blat, and L. A. Molchanova.

The peoples of Transcaucasia have been studied by such ethnographers as V. V. Bardavelidze, D. S. Vardumian, Sh. D. Inal-Ipa, S. D. Lisitsian, A. I. Robakidze, R. L. Kharadze, and Chitaia; the peoples of the Northern Caucasus, by V. K. Gardanov, G. A. Kokiev, and L. I. Lavrov; the peoples of Middle Asia, by M. S. Andreev, N. A. Kisliakov, S. M. Abramzon, T. A. Zhdanko, and O. A. Sukhareva; the peoples of the Baltic region, by V. S. Zhilenas, M. K. Stepermanis, H. Strods, and L. N. Terent’eva; and the peoples of the Volga Region, by V. N. Belitser, N. I. Vorob’ev, K. I. Kozlova, T. A. Kriukova, and R. G. Kuzeev.

The study of contemporary ethnic and cultural processes taking place in the USSR occupies a central place in the work of Soviet ethnographers. Various specialists, notably Iu. V. Arutiunian, L. M. Drobizheva, and V. V. Pimenov, have undertaken ethnosociological studies of national processes. Increased attention is being devoted to the processes of convergence among peoples and the formation of the nationwide features of the culture of a new historical community—the Soviet people.

Numerous historico-ethnographic studies have dealt with foreign peoples. Such ethnographers as Tokarev, O. A. Gantskaia, and I. N. Grozdova have begun comparative-typological studies of foreign cultures, and various researchers, among them S. R. Smirnov, Ol’derogge, S. A. Arutiunov, and R. F. Its, are investigating the ethnic history of foreign peoples. Contemporary ethnic and cultural processes in Asia and Oceania are studied by N. N. Cheboksarov, P. I. Puchkov, and M. V. Kriukov; such ethnographers as Ol’derogge, I. I. Potekhin, S. R. Smirnov, and R. N. Is-magilova are conducting research on Africa. The study of contemporary ethnic processes in the USA, Canada, and Latin America has been undertaken by various specialists, including S. A. Gonionskii, M. Ia. Berzina, and Sh. A. Bogina. Similar research dealing with Western Europe has been initiated by Soviet ethnographers, notably V. I. Kozlov.

Ethnodemographic and ethnogeographic research has undergone considerable development in the USSR. P. I. Kushner, S. I. Bruk, and P. E. Terletskii have devised methods of combining ethnic and demographic indicators on maps. The general map Peoples of the World and the comprehensive work Atlas of the Peoples of the World (1964) have been published. The most important result of ethnodemographic research has been Population and Settlement Patterns of the Peoples of the World (1962), which gives a detailed description of the national composition of the population of every country and for particular peoples provides population figures and indicates areas of settlement.

The theory of economic-cultural types developed by the Soviet ethnographers M. G. Levin and Cheboksarov is of great importance in understanding the general laws governing the development of culture as a whole and the way in which specific cultural characteristics of particular peoples are formed. Soviet scientists, including S. N. Artanovskii, Arutiunov, and Pimenov, are also investigating the ways in which cultures influence one another and the role of succession and renewal in cultural development. Various ethnographers, including Iu. V. Bromlei, Tokarev, Cheboksarov, and Kozlov, have undertaken theoretical work to establish the essential features and typologies of such concepts as “ethnic group,” “ethnic community,” and “ethnic processes.”

Study of the history of Russian and Soviet cultural anthropology and critical analysis of foreign cultural anthropology are continuing. Of great scientific and political importance is the work of Soviet cultural and physical anthropologists who expose racism, neocolonialism, and nationalism, notably I. R. Grigulevich, G. F. Debets, M. F. Nesturkh, E. L. Nitoburg, and Ia. Ia. Roginskii.

The publication of the 13-volume (18-book) series Peoples of the World (1954–66, general editor S. P. Tolstov) and Essays on Cultural Anthropology (vols. 1–5, 1957–68) was one of the most important results of the work of Soviet cultural anthropologists. The international prestige of Soviet cultural anthropology has grown. Soviet cultural anthropologists take part in international congresses and symposiums, and foreign scientists visit the USSR regularly to confer with Soviet scientists and receive additional training. Many works by Soviet cultural anthropologists have been translated into foreign languages.

Soviet cultural anthropology fulfills both a scientific and ideological function. Based on Marxist-Leninist methodology, it attempts to solve current philosophical problems and important practical questions in an effort to bring the peoples of the USSR closer together.

Institutions and organizations. Scientific work in cultural anthropology is carried out by specialized scientific institutions (cultural anthropology research institutes), universities, and museums (including cultural anthropology museums), as well as by the cultural anthropology societies that exist in most countries. In the USSR, the work of ethnographic institutions that are part of the system of the Academy of Sciences is coordinated by the N. N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnography. Collected material and studies are published in cultural anthropology journals and other specialized publications. The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, which works with UNESCO, was founded in 1948. International cultural anthropology congresses have been held regularly since 1934.


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