T͡Selye chasti: transnat͡sional'nye traektorii arkhivov Sergei͡a i Elizavety Shirokogorovykh

Translated title of the contribution: Whole Parts: Transnational Life Histories of the Archives of Sergei and Elizabeth Shirokogoroff

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What does an anthropologist’s archive look like? Where is it located? And is the anthropology of archives important for the understanding of anthropological thinking today? Here we answer these questions by analysing the various life histories of the archival fragments of one of the most puzzling and influential anthropologists in the history of Russian and Soviet anthropology: Sergei Mikhailovich Shirokogoroff (1887–1939). Shirokogoroff is credited as being one of the authors of etnos theory — one of the main instruments of identity politics in Russia, China, Germany and also, in part, Japan and South Africa. The transnational life histories of Shirokogoroff and his wife Elizaveta [Elizabeth] Nikolaevna (1884–1943), and of their ideas, suggests a conception of the archive not as a single whole, but instead as a collection of forgotten, hidden, obliterated, or, on the other hand, scrupulously preserved fragments. These fragments are not centred in one place or organized around any one reading, but they represent nevertheless “partial connections”. Moreover, as we can see today with hindsight, none of these archival fragments lay inert. They have been intertwined in local political and social ontologies. Our text has an autoethnograpic quality. While illustrating separate episodes from the life of the Shirokogoroffs we also will tell of our search for the manuscripts through which we were forced onto strange paths and encounters. These greatly deepened our understanding both of the life of documents and their material links to the lives of researchers. Our article is an attempt to illustrate this complex picture which, in the end, will allow us to conclude that we have only just begun to understand the workings of the anthropologists archive in the history of anthropological thought.
Translated title of the contributionWhole Parts: Transnational Life Histories of the Archives of Sergei and Elizabeth Shirokogoroff
Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)175–198
Number of pages25
JournalAntropologicheskii Forum
Issue number51
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

The research has been supported by The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC ES/K006428/1) and The European Research Council (716211 — GRETPOL).


  • anthropological archive
  • partial connections
  • transnationalism
  • Shirokogoroff
  • etnos
  • psychomental complex


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