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The 1926/27 Soviet Polar Census Expeditions

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The 1926/27 Soviet Polar Census Expeditions

Edited by David G. Anderson

346 pages, 51 tables & figs, 10 maps, 18 photos, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-766-2 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (May 2011)

ISBN  978-1-78238-097-9 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (November 2013)

eISBN 978-0-85745-044-9 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“The contributors have made excellent use of recently opened archives and interviews with descendants of the people surveyed to provide a uniquely human portrait of this seminal project. While the chapters focus most thoroughly on the Nenets, Khanty, and Yakut, the analysis is of broader relevance to an understanding of Siberian peoples during the first stages of the sovietization of the Far North. This book will prove of unique value to historians of the Soviet period as well as to cultural anthropologists specializing in polar peoples. Highly recommended.” • Choice

“All in all, this book is an important contribution to our knowledge about the ethnography and ethnohistory of the indigenous peoples of this region as well as about the immense work undertaken during the very early years of the Soviet Union in an effort to understand the demography and livelihoods of these peoples. The volume belongs on the shelves of all researchers working on these issues.” • Polar Research

“This a much-welcome addition to the modern English-language reference library on Siberian indigenous people and the first book-size effort to address their plight and status from the perspective of the Russian archival statistical and documentary records of the early 1900s. It is an outcome of a monumental collaborative project.” • Igor Krupnik, Smithsonian Institution


In 1926/27 the Soviet Central Statistical Administration initiated several yearlong expeditions to gather primary data on the whereabouts, economy and living conditions of all rural peoples living in the Arctic and sub-Arctic at the end of the Russian civil war. Due partly to the enthusiasm of local geographers and ethnographers, the Polar Census grew into a massive ethnological exercise, gathering not only basic demographic and economic data on every household but also a rich archive of photographs, maps, kinship charts, narrative transcripts and museum artifacts. To this day, it remains one of the most comprehensive surveys of a rural population anywhere. The contributors to this volume – all noted scholars in their region – have conducted long-term fieldwork with the descendants of the people surveyed in 1926/27. This volume is the culmination of eight years’ work with the primary record cards and was supported by a number of national scholarly funding agencies in the UK, Canada and Norway. It is a unique historical, ethnographical analysis and of immense value to scholars familiar with these communities’ contemporary cultural dynamics and legacy.

David G. Anderson is Professor of the Anthropology of the North at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He researches the history and ethnography of the circumpolar Arctic and has conducted fieldwork in Eastern Siberia (Taimyr, Evenkiia, Zabaikal’e), the Russian North (Kola), Northern Norway and in Canada’s Mackenzie Delta. His current research is on the different visions of history among settler states and aboriginal peoples and how this is linked to the growing debate on indigenous rights. His publications include Identity and Ecology in Arctic Siberia (Oxford University Press) and three coedited books, Ethnographies of Conservation, Cultivating Arctic Landscapes and About the Hearth (all Berghahn Books).

Subject: Anthropology (General)History (General)
Area: Asia-Pacific


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