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EAST-WEST-RESEARCH  December 2006

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Subject:

Hiroki Takakura: Indigenous Intellectuals and Suppressed Russian Anthropology (CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY December 2006)

From:

"Serguei Alex. Oushakine" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Serguei Alex. Oushakine

Date:

Tue, 12 Dec 2006 22:19:34 -0500

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CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 47, Number 6, December 2006

REPORTS

Indigenous Intellectuals and Suppressed Russian Anthropology

Sakha Ethnography from the End of the Nineteenth Century to the 1930s

Hiroki Takakura

Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University, 41 Kawauchi, Sendai,
980-8576, Japan ([log in to unmask]). 29 VI 06

In the course of the ideological shift to Soviet ethnography linked to the
Soviet cultural revolution of 1928-31, the Communist Party targeted the old
guard in the academic disciplines as "enemies of the people." Among those
suppressed were three distinguished Sakha (or Yakut) ethnographers and
political leaders. These three intellectuals managed to cope with the
Bolsheviks' social revolution and to appreciate the great value of their
indigenous cultures without rejecting the Russian concept of modernity.
Their work fills a gap in Sakha ethnography between the classic
ethnographies of the political exiles and the historical-ethnographic works
of the 1940s. Their personal histories reveal that suppressed Russian
anthropology was a study of otherness that entangled the others themselves
and at the same time excluded them.

     Anthropologists and historians of Russian anthropology are developing
historical analyses of the anthropological studies that were suppressed from
the 1920s and 1930s in the former Soviet Union-studies of the theoretical
and institutional changes in anthropology and the implications of the
transition from Russian ethnology to Soviet ethnography. Focusing on the
influence of Marxist-Leninist ideology on the social sciences, they have
discussed the changes in the subject matter of anthropology and the role of
anthropologists in policy making concerning nationalities (Clay 1995; Grant
1995, 1999; Knight 2000; Hirsch 1997; Slezkine 1991, 1994; Shnirelman 1996;
Solovei 1998, 2001). Correspondingly, there is growing interest in the
biographies of the anthropologists who were victims of the Stalinist purges
(Reshetov 1994a, 1994b; Tishkov and Tumarkin 2004; Tumarkin 1999, 2003).

     The ideological shift to Soviet ethnography, classified as part of
"historical science," was linked to the Soviet Cultural Revolution of
1928-31. In a class war the Communist Party and radical young intellectuals
targeted the old guard in academic disciplines as "enemies of the people"
and aimed to subject all academic disciplines to Marxist ideology
(Fitzpatrick 1999; Zhu 2000, 1489-93). Pursuing the history of Russian
anthropology in this period inevitably awakens memories of those who were
suppressed and purged. "In re-evaluations of the `black spots' of history in
the former Soviet Union, much has been written about the who, why, and how
of Stalinist repression" (Balzer 2003, 3). The study of the biographies of
the suppressed anthropologists concerns itself not only with ethical issues
but also with the foundations of Russian and Soviet anthropology (Reshetov
1994a, 185).

     Among these suppressed anthropologists were three distinguished Sakha
(or Yakut)1 political leaders who were active from the end of the nineteenth
century to the 1930s: Vasilii V. Nikiforov (1866-1928), Aleksei E.
Kulakovskii (1877-1926), and Gavril V. Ksenofontov (1888-1938). These men
lived as ethnographers, historians, writers, educators, and politicians and
yet retained a cultural otherness as members of a minority. Through the
analysis of their biographies and their interrelations in both their
research and political activities, I examine the interaction between their
ethnographic studies and the sociopolitical activities of the period and
consider the significance to them of Sakha ethnography.

     1 Sakha is a self-designation and Yakut the ethnic name in the Russian
language. Both names refer to the most northern Turkic people in eastern
Siberia.

BIOGRAPHY, ETHNICITY, AND THE INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT

     Previous research on suppressed Soviet scholars has tended to deal with
biography and institutional context separately: the biographical approach
sympathetically emphasizes victimization, whereas the institutional approach
critically stresses the ideological context and its implications. In an
article reviewing Tumarkin's (1999) work, Knight (2000) has coined the term
"salvage biography" and criticized the approach to their biographies that
gives these scholars' work no reflective consideration. According to Knight,
it would be more fruitful for historians to discuss the biographies in the
institutional context of the period than to emphasize the tragedy of
suppression. In this paper I try to bring biography and institutional
context together.

     Needless to say, as both a de facto state and a legal entity Russia has
been home to many different ethnic groups. Those who were suppressed and
purged during the 1920s and 1930s included not only ethnic Russians but also
many intellectuals of other ethnic groups. Their suppression cannot be
explained solely by the confrontation between the old bourgeois and the new
socialist (Bolshevik) intellectuality; rather it must be seen against the
backdrop of the ethnically hierarchical relationship between Russian
(Slavic) and other, politically peripheral nationalities. Recent studies of
suppressed indigenous intellectuals also question the commonly accepted idea
of an ideological confrontation, insisting that ethnicity was a crucial
factor. Tatiana Argounova (2001, 45-52) considers the suppressed
intellectuals of the Sakha Republic "scapegoats" used to "justify the
righteousness of Communist society"-in other words, something to neutralize
the xenophobia expressed by the Soviet authorities and the Russian majority
rather than merely arbitrary victims of an ideological confrontation. The
historian N. N. Diakonova (2002, 5-9) points out that current research on
indigenous intellectuals during the Soviet era tends to replace the
class-conflict approach with an "ethno-cultural interpretation." Rejecting
the orthodox class-conflict approach, Diakonova explores the particular
historical contexts of the origin and development of Sakha intellectuals.

     Though ethnicity is relevant to the discussion, it is not the only
factor. The political and academic context of the 1920s and 1930s was far
from ethnically clear-cut. In fact, biographers working in Moscow today tend
to describe both Russian and non-Russian scholars in terms of citizenship
rather than ethnicity, using the term otechestvennaia (fatherland-or
domestically produced) anthropology to describe Russian scholarship. The
term, derived from otets (father), is an adjective meaning "home," "native,"
"domestic," "patriotic." In this context, its use signifies the Russian
state (federal) level. The Russian anthropologist V. Tishkov insists on the
importance of academic professionalism in developing the history of
anthropology and criticizes biographies based on nationalism and local
patriotism (Tumarkin 2003; Tishkov and Tumarkin 2004, 690), and his
criticism may be appropriate. At the same time, although the concept of
citizenship may be a useful tool for analysis, it is hard to deny that an
ethnically hierarchical relationship existed and that the intellectuals of
the politically peripheral ethnic groups were aware of it. While Soviet
constitutions may have constructed an idealized citizenship regime, the idea
of institutionalized nationhood (Brubaker 1996) affected ethnic-identity and
national issues in the USSR and the Russian Federation. To rephrase the axis
of confrontation more accurately, the hierarchy lies in the asymmetrical
relationship between an ethnically transparent political power and an
ethnically stigmatized peripheral people. The question is how can we
evaluate suppression under the name of nationalism and how we should
interpret its meaning.

THE EFFECTS OF CENSORSHIP ON RESEARCH

     Historical studies of suppressed Russian anthropologists have been the
focus of much attention ever since the public was given access to the KGB's
documents at the end of the 1980s (Tumarkin 1999, 5). Focusing on the Sakha
in particular, the Russian Presidential Decree (ukaze) no. 824, issued on
April 27, 1994, "On the Restoration of Justice Related to Repression in the
1920s-1930s toward the Yakut People," replaced the old resolution of the
Central Committee of the Communist Party that had stood since August 9,
1928.2 The decree restored the reputation of the Sakha Confederalists. The
purpose of their movement was to change the status of the Yakut Autonomous
Republic to a union republic for political and economic development. The
Confederalists were not separatists seeking to secede from Russia but people
who idealized the federalism of Switzerland and the U.S.A. (Antonov 1998;
1999, 33-37; Argounova 2001, 52). The beginnings of a movement to strengthen
the land of Sakha as a political unit can be traced to several events at the
beginning of the twentieth century: the establishment of the Yakut Union in
1905, the Federalist movement after the February Revolution of 1917, and
various trials during the Civil War in Yakutia (1918-23).3 These movements
were sparked by the late-nineteenth-century idea of Siberian regionalism as
activists sought alternative visions and realities to replace the
established imperial regime. The three Sakha intellectuals discussed here
were among the leaders of these movements, all of which were labeled as
separatist or bourgeois nationalist by the authorities.

     The Soviet socialist regime prevented historical studies of these
intellectuals. For example, the Yakutian Provincial Committee adopted a
resolution on March 1, 1943, that banned research and publication of
anything concerning Kulakovskii, who was labeled an "enemy of the
revolution" (Alekseev 1996, 5). When Georgy Basharin (1994 [1944]), a Sakha
historian-anthropologist, argued for the importance of the generation of
intellectuals including Kulakovskii, a critique appeared in Pravda on
December 10, 1951, denouncing his historical interpretation for potentially
"misleading" the public (Borisov et al. 1951, 3; see also Kolarz 1954,
109-10; Spiridonov 1994, 6). Again, Ksenofontov's 1937 book on the
ethnogenesis and ancient history of the Sakha could not be quoted because
Ksenofontov had been labeled an "enemy of people" (Ivanov 1992, 5; Romanov
2003, 79). Monographs by both Ksenofontov (1992a [1937], 1992b [1937]) and
Basharin (1994 [1944]) were reprinted in the early 1990s, and Spiridonov,
who wrote the preface for the reprinted versions, said that Basharin's book
was so important and had been hidden so well that it had become legendary
(1994, 3).

     Anthropologists outside the former Soviet Union have paid little
attention to the influence of these indigenous intellectuals on the history
of Sakha ethnographic studies and Siberian ethnography, which can be traced
to the detailed descriptive works written during the latter half of the
nineteenth and the early twentieth century by exiled anthropologists such as
I. Khuzhiakov, V. Seroshevskii, I. Pekarskii, and V. Jochelson (Ivanov 1971,
107).4

     After the ideological and institutional changes that took place at the
end of the 1930s, the anthropologist Sergei Tokarev set Sakha ethnography in
the context of comparative historical perspectives within Soviet Marxist
anthropology. One of the current principals in Sakha ethnography, Vasily
Ivanov (2000, 1), recalls that Tokarev's work (1945) was one of the very
first in which Moscow and Leningrad researchers played the leading role in
studies on Sakha and other ethnic groups in Yakutia. Tokarev's subject was
an inquiry into the historical social organization of Sakha and their
property relations from the end of the seventeenth to the first half of the
eighteenth century. His discussion of these issues was the beginning of a
long-term debate on the feudal form of land ownership. The question was
whether the origin of land as private property in Sakha society was
internally generated or brought about by changes in Russian colonization
policies in the latter half of the eighteenth century. This was a very
important issue, since the answer could have affected the legitimacy of
Sakha's administrative status as an autonomous republic. The debate involved
Russian and Sakha anthropologists and historians on each side and lasted
until the late 1960s (Sofroneev 1971, 83-99; see also Shnirelman 1996, 50).
In addition to Tokarev's, other works on the material culture of the Sakha
were compiled and arranged in relation to those of other Siberian peoples to
produce a historical-ethnographic atlas. This perspective viewed Sakha
ethnography in the broader context of ethnohistorical reconstruction among
Siberian peoples.5

     2 The document referred to is found in the Russian journal Sobranie
zakonodatel'stva Rossiiskoi Federatsii, no. 1, May 2, 1994, p. 3; see also
Ivanova (1998, 4).
     3 In a broader sense, we may also include the founding of the Sakha
Steppe Council under the Speranskii regime (1822 to 1838) (Gogolev 2000,
92-130).
     4 Of course, study of the works and lives of the indigenous
intellectuals was not completely impossible for scholars from outside the
USSR, and previous research in this area is rather superficially suggested
in some publications (Safronov 1971; Grigor'ev 1978; Zelinskii 1970).
     5 During the 1960s influential works by Soviet ethnographers appeared
one after another as follows: Levin and Potapov (1961), Dolgikh (1960),
Gurvich (1966). See also Okladnakov (1949).

TWO EXPEDITIONS IN YAKUTIA

     Two scientific expeditions in Yakutia are crucial for understanding the
history of the Sakha indigenous intellectuals and their ethnographic
studies. One was the Sibiriakov Expedition, conducted from 1894 to 1896, and
the other was the Yakutian Expedition, conducted from 1925 to 1930. The
Sibiriakov Expedition was organized by the East Siberian Branch of the
Russian Imperial Geographical Society and was financially supported by the
Irkutsk mining industrialist I. M. Sibiriakov. Its original purpose was to
explore the relationship between the development of mining and the living
conditions of the indigenous peoples. Fifteen political exiles and four
local Sakha, including Vasilii Nikiforov, took part in the field project and
collected ethnographic materials (Ermolaeva 2001, 35; Mal'kova 1994, 88-93).
The Yakutian Expedition was initiated by the Sakha communist M. K. Ammosov,
plenipotentiary of the Yakut Autonomous Republic from 1923 to 1925. Its
purpose was to acquire basic scientific information for a study of ways of
improving the economy and culture of the republic and detailed population
data. The government feared that the Sakha were on a course toward
extinction because their population was the same in 1917 as it had been in
1897. Misgivings about the imminent dying-out of Siberian indigenous peoples
were often expressed in academia at the time. Ammosov elicited the
cooperation of the Soviet Academy, which established a committee for
research on the Yakut Autonomous Socialist Sakha Republic (ASSR) and
implemented comprehensive field projects in the natural and social sciences
in collaboration with local scientific and intellectual organizations
(Ermolaeva 2001, 35, 53-64, 92; Kuljok 1985, 39; Makarov 1986, 8;
Syrovatskii 1960, 110). Ethnographers analyzed the ethnic structure of the
population of the republic and its geographical distribution (Parnikova
1971, 35). The extensive results appeared in numerous publications on the
natural science and medical field projects and Pekarskii's Sakha-Russian
Dictionary, a product of the Sibiriakov Expedition. The Yakutian
Expedition's ethnographic projects, however, produced very few publications,
and for some reason most of the materials remained in draft form. Of
interest to the local authorities was that the medical and public health
studies rejected the idea of ethnic extinction, although they did recommend
finding an alternative to the traditional dwellings of the Sakha, namely,
the house and cattle-shed complex, which was associated with many diseases
in the population. All three intellectuals that I focus on in this paper
participated in this project (Ermolaeva 2001, 67, 103-4, 127, 131-38).
Although their political ideals were not in line with Bolsheviks', they
cooperated in various ways with the Yakutian Expedition, probably because of
its benefit to the ASSR.

     In the following I will briefly discuss the personal histories of the
three scholars to clarify the relationship between their political
activities and their research.

VASILII VASILIEVICH NIKIFOROV (1866-1928)

     Nikiforov was born in the village of Tebikovskii, in the Diupsinskii
District of Yakut Province, on May 18, 1866. His father, who was secretary
of the local administration, died when Nikiforov was four years old. His
mother, who was illiterate, strongly supported education for children, and
so he entered preparatory school in Yakutsk. Here he made some friends who
would be influential in his later life such as the political exile P.
Podbel'skii. Nikiforov himself realized that he needed the help of this
political exile to understand Russian literature and social sciences
(Diakonova 2002, 54-55; Mal'kova 1994, 7-18).

     After taking a correspondence course in law, Nikiforov began work as
the head of the Diupsinskii District administration in the early 1890s. He
moved to the Statistical Committee in Yakutsk in 1896 and then worked as
counsel for the Yakutsk Provincial Court from 1902 on. Outside of work he
was interested in science and educational activities and conducted studies
in many areas from ethnography to agriculture. Nikiforov cooperated with
Pekarskii on linguistic and ethnographic research on the Sakha people and,
as part of the Sibiriakov Expedition, completed an unpublished article on
the family customs of the Sakha (Kliorina 1991, 7). He also founded
organizations aimed at improving the poor economic and cultural conditions
of the Sakha. One such organization was the Yakut Agricultural Society
(founded in 1899), whose purpose was to introduce new technology and
information to the Sakha with the support of the Russian Society of
Agriculture and Free Economy. Another was the Syrdyk (Light) Enlightenment
Society (founded in 1905), which promoted the spread of education. He
himself was dispatched as a representative of Yakutsk to the first Russian
Educational Congress in 1914 (Mal'kova 1994, 83-87, 107-9).

     The Manifesto of October 1905 issued by the tsar granted civil
liberties and democratic elections for members of the Duma and encouraged
the intellectuals of various ethnic groups in the Russian Empire. Nikiforov
was among those inspired by it, and he organized the Yakut Union on January
4, 1906, to push for the restoration of Sakha land rights and establish
their autonomy through the establishment of a national assembly. The
governor of Yakut Province regarded the union as a revolutionary
organization and cracked down on it with the assistance of the armed forces
of the Irkutsk governor-general. Nikiforov and his colleagues were arrested
and their political movement disbanded. While he was in prison, he wrote the
play Manchaary to share his beliefs and ideals with the public. Manchaary
was based on the life of a popular hero of the same name who lived in the
middle of nineteenth century and revolted against the Russian colonial
government and its rich class supporters among the Sakha. Through this play
Nikiforov created a symbol of national integration among the people by
raising their consciousness of the importance of Sakha legends (Gogolev
2000, 178-82; Mal'kova 1994, 131-71; Diakonova and Romanova 2003, 19;
Katsuki 2003).

     After being released from prison Nikiforov continued his antigovernment
activities while engaging in the publication of Sakha newspapers and
journals and translating the works of Tolstoi and Gogol' from Russian to
Sakha. When the February Revolution occurred in 1917, Nikiforov was
appointed head of the provincial government and showed his support for the
anti-Bolshevik Kolchak administration. However, when the Bolshevik
government took control of Yakutsk City, he was arrested and sent to prison
in Irkutsk. On his release from prison in 1922, he returned to Yakutsk.
Although the regime excluded him from the political arena, it granted him
important research and cultural positions. He was appointed to the position
of secretary of the Yakutsk section of the Central Oriental Publishing House
in 1924. He was also elected to the executive committee of the Society for
Research on the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East along with the Russian
anthropologists V. Bogoraz and L. Shternberg. In the same year he was a
member of the administrative-legal committee of the Soviet State Committee
for Assistance to the Peoples of the Northern Borderlands. From 1925 on he
also took part in the publication of the ethnographic journal Severnaia
Aziia. As we have seen, he was a participant in the Yakutian Expedition and
collected a huge amount of demographic material in the Viliui and Olekma
Districts. All the evidence indicates that he had a strong connection with
Soviet academia. However, on September 18, 1927, while passing through
Leningrad on his way home after the research trip, he was arrested on
suspicion of antirevolutionary activities. He was sentenced to ten years'
imprisonment in a labor camp and died in prison the next year (Kliorina
1991, 7-8; Ermolaeva 2001, 95).

ALEKSEI ELISEEVICH KULAKOVSKII (1877-1926)

     Kulakovskii was born to a well-to-do family in Fourth Zhekhsogonskii
village in the Baturusskii District of Yakut Province on March 6, 1877.
Although his parents were illiterate, they wanted to give their son a good
education. He entered the Yakutsk Religious School in 1890 and then studied
history and Russian literature at the Yakutsk Practical School.6 After his
graduation in 1897, he worked for a time as secretary to the administration
of his home village. Quitting this job, he moved from place to place as a
teacher collecting folklore and linguistic-ethnographic materials about the
traditional life of the Sakha people (Alekseev 1996, 8; Diakonova 2002,
124-26).

     Kulakovskii published the first Sakha literature, a poem called "Spells
of Baianai, Hunting Spirit," in 1900. In 1910 he helped to organize the
Friends of Yakut Literature, translated works of Lermontov from Russian to
Sakha, and wrote various literary works. Among them was the 1910 poem "A
Dream of the Shaman," a sociopolitical critique of Russian repression from a
shaman's viewpoint. In the traditional worldview of the Sakha, a shaman is
an intermediary between the real world and the world beyond, and therefore
the shaman in his text links the traditional indigenous world with the
modern Russian one. What the shaman says is a metaphor for the social
reality of indigenous intellectuals including Kulakovskii himself (Diakonova
2002, 126). The shaman warns readers that "when the strong old nation and
the young nation live together" the latter will be "deprived forever," and
when the two nations fight "the poor nation will disappear" (Kulakovskii
1977 [1910], 234; 1990 [1924], 183).7 Needless to say, the "strong old
nation" refers to the Russians and the "young nation" to the Sakha. In a
different text Kulakovskii posed the question "Should [Yakutia] be placed
under the control of America, Japan, or China?" and answered that those
countries could have led the Sakha people into even more difficult
conditions and made their survival even more tenuous; Russians were better
because they were closer in culture (Kulakovskii 1992 [1912], 44). As
Basharin (1994 [1944], 22-23) put it, "The shaman [Kulakovskii] would advise
his people to be amazed by the Russian magic that was modern literature,
science, and technology."

     Kulakovskii was in northern Yakutia, most of which was occupied by
anti-Bolshevik government forces, after the February Revolution, and the
anti-Bolshevik Yakutsk government appointed him a commissar of the
Verkhoianskii Region, a position he occupied until December 1918 (Basharin
1994 [1944], 46-47; Demidov 1978, 166). He also engaged in other
anti-Bolshevik activities such as the Nelikan and Churapcha uprisings during
the Civil War. After the Bolshevik regime became established, he vigorously
engaged in literary work and research, collaborated with the authorities in
the areas of education and research, and organized the Sakha Keskile
scientific research group in 1925. Along with Nikiforov, he was dispatched
as a representative of the republic to the First Congress of Turkic Studies
in Baku, but he fell ill on the return trip and died in Moscow on June 6,
1926 (Burtsev 1994, 158; Demidov 1978, 269-81; Zelinskii 1970, 56-59).

     6 This is a school in which modern languages are taught instead of the
classics.
     7 This poem was revised under the censorship of the Bolsheviks and
reprinted in 1924 (Argounova 2001, 102).

GAVRIL VASILIEVICH KSENOFONTOV (1888-1938)

     Ksenofontov was born in Fourth Mal'Zhegarskii village in the
Zapadno-Xangalasskii District of Yakut Province on April 4, 1888. His
parents, who had lost their other children to premature death, were afraid
that some evil power had hold of them, and to insure his safety they had him
raised by another family in the village. After attending primary school in
the village, he was brought up in an orphanage in Yakutsk and entered the
Yakutsk Practical School in 1899. In April 1905 he became a member of the
illegal Marxist Maiak circle, which was organized by political exiles. In
1908 he moved to Tomsk and entered the Faculty of Law at the university.
Here he began to study ethnology in the program organized by the students of
the Russian anthropologist G. Potanin. After graduation he worked as a legal
counsel in Tomsk and then in Yakutsk from 1912 to 1917, but he never lost
his interest in ethnography and sometimes embarked on trips to collect
folklore materials (Grigor'ev 1978, 163-64).

     After the February Revolution, Ksenofontov founded the Federalist
Movement, which insisted on the transfer of power from the central
government. He organized the Freedom Party (later the Yakut Labour Union of
Federalists) in cooperation with Nikiforov in March 1917. The movement,
emphasizing the importance of cultural autonomy, aimed to establish a
Siberian provincial Duma. Its political position was close to that of the
Social Revolutionary Party. Ksenofontov worked as chairman of the town
council for a time and was elected representative to the All-Russian
Constitutional Congress in November 1917 (Gogolev 2001, 6-16; Demidov 1978,
96-99; Radchenko 1999, 20-23).

     After the victory of the Bolsheviks in the Civil War, Ksenofontov left
the political arena and concentrated his energy on ethnological research. He
worked as a research assistant and engaged in research on the ethnic origin
of the Sakha in the Faculty of Social Science of Irkutsk University, where
the anthropologists B. Petri and P. Khoroshikh taught. Subsequently he went
back to Yakutsk and continued his research in various positions, publishing
his outline of Sakha ancient history in 1937. Examining folklore materials,
he identified the time and space differences revealed by these materials and
discussed the multiple components of Sakha culture. Although most current
researchers now disagree with his views, his pioneering research method is
highly valued. In the same year he moved to Moscow for further research in
the central archives and libraries, and there he was arrested in April 1938
for promoting, Siberian regionalism. On August 28, 1938, he was sentenced to
death and executed (Grigor'ev 1978, 165-67; Ivanov 1992, 6-10; Ivanov et al.
1973, 39; Romanov 2003, 98).

RUSSIAN MODERNITY AND SAKHA INDIGENOUSNESS

     Though there is ten-year difference in the active periods of these
three intellectuals, it was not unusual for their paths to cross. They
shared attitudes toward certain sociopolitical issues of the time and had
much in common.

     First of all, all three had relationships with political exiles who
were Russian populists, some of whom were great ethnographers, and these
encounters strongly influenced their futures. From their personal histories
it seems that the influence of these exiles inspired their interest in
modern literature and social science.

     Second, they all received more than a basic education, and their
interest in science and literature expanded during their school years. Both
Nikiforov and Ksenofontov studied law, and Nikiforov and Kulakovskii loved
Russian literature and even translated some works into the Sakha language.
In those days gaining a higher education was an established road to success
in the peripheral Russian colonial institutions. All three held
administrative positions in the imperial regime and had the potential to
join the local political or cultural elite, but none of them were satisfied
with this. They preferred free and independent individualism and believed in
the benefits of modern science and literature for themselves and the
practical benefits of education for the public. The Syrdyk Enlightenment
Society, which Nikiforov organized, had a hall called the Tribal (Yakut)
Club, and Kulakovskii played the leading role in Nikiforov's play Manchaary
when it was performed there (Antonov 1998, 10-11; Mal'kova 1994, 169).
Ksenofontov, in contrast, made his mark in academia, but he also took the
initiative to organize a Federalist movement with Nikiforov and contributed
to the development of its political strategy with his knowledge of law and
politics.

     While they were Sakha intellectuals who had mastered Russian scientific
ways of thinking and pursued the possibilities of modernity, they also
valued their indigenous culture in their own ways. Their ethnographic
studies were conducted after they had left the main political arena. Their
scientific work and literary production may in fact have presented them with
a dilemma between modernity and tradition. They may have been influenced by
the uneasy relation between their customary way of life and dominant Russian
political and cultural tenets. Russianness was Occidental, at least for
indigenous intellectuals, and it actively reached out for universalism
through the decolorization of ethnicity. We can ascertain the nature of this
predicament from the attitude and writings of Kulakovskii. What his life and
thoughts suggest is that a certain painful harmony existed between Russian
modernity and Sakha indigenousness. While he valued Russian literature,
culture, and governance, he tried to find some coexistence with the
spiritual value of Sakha culture, writing of an "inseparable unity" between
Sakha and Russia (Diakonova 2002, 125). In fact, he invented the
transcription of the Sakha language based on the Cyrillic alphabet, which,
taking into account the historical conditions of Sakha society, he
considered more suitable for the purpose than the Latin one (Basharin 1994
[1944], 52).

     All the political movements engaged in by these three figures failed
after the Civil War, and the local Bolshevik authorities excluded them from
primary administrative posts but assigned them responsible educational and
cultural positions in the system. The relationship between these
intellectuals and local communists was not severely confrontational
(Argounova 2001, 78). Nikiforov occupied several responsible posts in the
cultural-political field that had been arranged by M. Ammosov, one of the
leading local communists in Yakutia. In 1925 Kulakovskii collaborated with
the Sakha communist P. Oiunskii, the first chairperson of the Central
Executive Committee of the Yakut ASSR,8 in organizing the research
association Sakha Keskile. For the three cultural heroes and two leading
Sakha communists, the Yakutian Expedition was a chance to collaborate on
scientific field projects for the future good of the Yakut ASSR regardless
of ideological differences. Such collaboration among people of different
political convictions was still possible in the 1920s, whereas after the end
of the 1920s dissidents were uncompromisingly persecuted. In fact, Ammosov
and Oiunskii were sentenced to death under the Stalinist purges (Makarov
1986, 8; Fedorov 1994, 168-70).

     8 The life of Oiunskii, who was born in 1893, is similar to the lives
of these three indigenous intellectuals in some ways. He was also a writer,
ethnographer and politician, but politically he supported the Bolsheviks
(Danilov and Okorokov 1978, 8-12).

CONCLUSION

     I have drawn a brief picture of the life and work of three Sakha
intellectuals and their anthropological studies of Sakha people from the end
of nineteenth century to the 1930s. These three important figures tried to
find a connection between modernity and tradition and to cope with the
Bolsheviks' socialist revolution in their own ways. For anthropologists
outside the former Soviet Union, their work fills the gap in Sakha
ethnography between the classic ethnographies of the political exiles and
the historical-ethnographic works of the 1940s.

     It is significant that the three were not professional anthropologists
by occupation. Although they devoted their energies to ethnographic
research, they were also political activists. They recognized the great
value of their indigenous cultures without rejecting the framework of the
Russian concept of modernity. For them the meaning of their ethnographic
studies was to find a medium for the enlightenment of modernity for the
Sakha people and, in some sense, to coordinate their modernization. Their
attitude toward science, literature, and ethnography eased the ideological
confrontation for the people.

     As Caroline Humphrey once pointed out, Russian anthropology, which at
the end of the nineteenth century was among the most sophisticated in the
world, had produced many local and indigenous scholars, who involved
themselves in "problems of what we would today call ethnicity, coinciding
with the emergence of nationalist movements at the turn of the [twentieth]
century" (Humphrey 1984, 311). I have shown that the suppressed indigenous
intellectuals, entangled with Russian-Soviet politics and science, still
grappled with their indigenousness. Though these two aspects of their lives
may seem diametrically opposed, both seem to have been indispensable.

     The roles of these intellectuals might be seen in the light of the
recent Euro-American idea of the "native anthropologist," and, indeed, M.
Balzer (1995, 4-5), has so described them. However, whether they can be
aptly identified as "native anthropologists" calls for very careful
examination. On this matter my standpoint is definitely closer to that of
the Moscow anthropologists. As I have said, Russian-Soviet anthropology has
been developed by many multiethnic Russian citizens. While indigenous
intellectuals could find roles and positions in that citizenship regime,
they lost everything within it. The biographies speak of a constant
confrontation with seemingly contradictory goals. If one views them as
native anthropologists, thus emphasizing the difference between "us" and
"them" (Narayan 1993), one cannot fully understand their multifarious lives
and crosscutting identifications. The question is how we can discern and
describe their complexities without rejecting either unification under
otechestvennaia anthropology or the simplified dichotomy between "us" and
"them." What this paper confronts is the unique historical setting of
Russian-Soviet anthropology in which these indigenous intellectuals may have
participated at least by the end of the nineteenth century. These
intellectuals, however, are constituted not by the relationship between
insider and outsider but by the relationship between individual and state,
and the latter may have decisively dissolved the dichotomy between "us" and
"them." Differences in institutional anthropology can clarify the
differences in the relationship among anthropology, scholars, and societies.
To explore the meaning of this historical context further it would be useful
to compare it with those of Euro-American and Asian anthropologies.

     In conclusion, historical analysis of suppressed Russian anthropology
reveals it as a study of otherness that entangled the others themselves and,
under the socialist regime's Soviet ethnography, simultaneously excluded
them and their viewpoints.
Acknowledgments

     I am grateful to Anna Stammler, Florian Stammler, and Lawrence H.
Khlinovski Rockhill for their comments and suggestions on my manuscript. I
also wish to thank Piers Vitebsky and all the staff, especially Isabella
Warren, bibliographer on the Russian North, of the Library of the Scott
Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, where I was a visiting
scholar from October 2003 to September 2004. Most of the literature that I
refer to in this paper is from its collection.

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