Samoyedic Diary: Early Years of Visual Anthropology in the Soviet Arctic

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The article describes Georgii and Ekaterina Prokofievs’ expedition to the Bol’shezemel’skie Nenets and their experience of filming documentary chronicles. Prokofievs’ records are a unique piece of the visual anthropology of the Samoyedic peoples. Referring to the available archival documents, it is assumed that the chronicles were filmed at the expense of the cooperation agreement signed by Franz Boas and Vladimir Bogoras in New York in 1928. The article offers a reconstruction of Prokofiev’s fieldwork experience and his accounts on the early history of collectivization. In this regard, the cinematic chronicles and a collection of photos taken in the field are treated as a visual conceptualization. The available studies of the visual anthropology in the USSR suggest that the documentary chronicles by the Prokofievs filmed in 1929-1930 are the first cinematic records produced by ethnographers in the Soviet Arctic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-359
Number of pages29
JournalVisual Anthropology
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

The author appreciates the comments and remarks of Craig Campbell (University of Texas, Austin) and of all the participants in the workshop dedicated to the commemoration of Vladimir G. Bogoras, held on May 14, 2015, in the framework of the joint anthropological seminar of the Department of Ethnography of Siberia at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the European University at Saint Petersburg. The author also thanks Joselyne Dudding (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge) and David G. Anderson (University of Aberdeen) for a discussion of Ethel John Lindgren's cinematic and photographic materials, which helped in the understanding and contextualization of the Prokofievs’ chronicles. The author is also grateful to Nikolai B. Vakhtin (European University at Saint Petersburg) for his comments on the first version of the article. I am very thankful to Olga Pak for her translation of this article. A Russian version will be published in Antropologicheskii Forum (2016, no. 29).

This article was written with support from the projects ‘‘Etnos:A life history of theetnosconcept among the Peoplesof the North’’ (European Social Research Council ES=K006428=1) and ‘‘EtnosandMinzu: Histories and Politics ofIdentity Governance in Eurasia’’ (The Leverhulme Trust, IN-2012-138). In addition the Russian Science Foundation(RNF 14-18-02785) supported the archival work in Saint Petersburg during the last stage of the research.


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