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5. Notes from His “Snail’s Shell”: Shirokogoroff’s Fieldwork and the Groundwork for Etnos Thinking

David G. Anderson

© 2019 Anderson, CC BY 4.0 https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0150.05

Sergei M. Shirokogoroff was a prolific, and enigmatic, ethnographer of eastern Eurasia, whose writings evoked strong reactions among his students and colleagues both during his life, and after. Although sometimes, and in some places, he is hailed as one of anthropology’s founding figures — especially in China (Liú 2007; Fèi 1994; Guldin 1994) his work was for decades ignored or undervalued in his Russian homeland. Despite this disdain, Shirokogoroff’s passion for specifying a bio-spatial theory of how identities evolve, known as etnos theory, nevertheless became a core pillar of late-Soviet ethnography, and also had some influence on the Chinese version of the term known as mínzú. Despite this posthumous and sometimes anonymous recognition in Eurasia, he had hoped to make a name for himself in Europe. To this end he poured his energy into an extraordinary circle of correspondence and published an entire shelf of often self-funded English-language brochures and books. It would be fair to say that Shirokogoroff is rarely associated today in English language anthropology with his fascination with the “growth and decline of etnoses”. Instead, he is known predominately as an ethnographer of shamanism and as an authority on Evenki-Tungus peoples.

Because of his complicated transnational life trajectory, and difficult character, there has been little understanding of how Shirokogoroff’s ideas and fieldwork fit together. Indeed trying to assemble a reasonable biography of the man has been hindered by the fact that he taught and researched at eight different universities or academic societies between 1912 and 1939 in Russia and China, at times when these nations were transforming themselves through revolution and/or resistance to foreign occupation (Anderson and Arzyutov forthcoming). While many observers appreciate his attention to detail and the broad range of interests in his fieldwork, they all chaff against the fact that his notes and letters are often chaotic or are broken up between a large number of institutions around the globe.

This chapter represents a first attempt to try to ground Shirokogoroff’s theoretical thinking on the biosocial and bio-spatial identity he called etnos in the day-to-day activities of his fieldwork using recently discovered archival materials. The chapter puts its emphasis on Shirokogoroff’s first Siberian fieldwork in the region to the east of Lake Baikal known as Zabaĭkal’e (literally, “beyond Baikal”). The 1912 and 1913 expeditions to the region were jointly planned, documented, and written-up with his wife Elizaveta [née Robinson], who it has now emerged played a pivotal role in his research (Fig. 5.1). In his later publications, and in correspondence, Shirokogoroff would credit their joint fieldwork with having a profound effect on his thinking both about what he would later describe as the “Tungus hypothesis” [the Tungus mentalité], and on what he overwhelmingly came to describe as “his” etnos theory. Given the long-lasting impact of Shirokogoroff’s writing on Eurasian styles of doing anthropology, it is important to unravel this first Siberian fieldwork. This chapter for the first time brings together the scattered photographs, diaries, manuscripts, letters, and other artefacts generated by this first expedition. A full account of the archival material is presented in an appendix. A preliminary version of this chapter was published in Russian (Anderson 2017).

Fig. 5.1 Elizaveta Shirokogoroff posing in the forests around Tyksyr, 1912 (EVR)

In studying the Zabaĭkal fieldwork of this ethnographic couple, I will place special emphasis upon what is today experienced as a chaotic bundle of documentary techniques ranging from invasive anthropometry, to classical philology, to the study of material culture, and finally the incorporation of cellular and mathematical metaphors to structure the data. The central argument of the paper is that the very first ethnographic encounter of the couple with the Evenkis and Orochens of eastern Siberia destabilised Shirokogoroff’s expectations of the structure of culture, and led him on a life-long search to measure “cultured-ness” [kul’turnost’] within amalgams of constantly shifting populations on the frontiers of Russia and China. This changing political landscape encouraged him to develop a hyper-positivist approach of measuring and documenting physiognomic and phonetic stabilities, and collecting representative artefacts, that transcended the chaos of political change.

This attention to stability-within-change, I will argue, led to the ironic yet ultimately successful imprinting of this theory as a hallmark quality of late twentieth century Eurasian states. Certain anomalies in the texts suggest that the field project might have also developed into an exploration of performative identities creating an exotic tension in Shirokogoroff’s writing between an almost racialist biology and a relativistic and culturalist ethnographic account. In trying to balance these contradictory intentions, I contextualize the production of etnos thinking as a personal journey wherein Shirokogoroff’s increasing alienation from intellectual circles in Petrograd bolstered his confidence and authority as an arbitrator of ethnic boundaries in eastern Eurasia.

Etnos Theory… Unwound

Near the end of his life, Shirokogoroff confessed to his lifelong friend, the linguist Władysław Kotwicz (1872–1944), that he “began to formulate the heart of my etnos theory in 1912”. He wrote these words in February 1932 in Beiping [Běijīng] at the beginning of a very dark period for northeast Asia. By the time that he had posted his letter, Harbin had fallen to the Japanese Imperial Army, and by 18 February the state of Manchukuo had been imposed over much of northeastern China. Shirokogoroff’s mind in this letter, however, was focussed on past affronts he suffered in Petrograd more than two decades earlier. He was writing to complain that he had not been sent the most recent volume on Tungus linguistics (Bogoraz 1931), which, in a style that is uniquely his own, led him to recall his disenchantment with his mentors at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. This rather bitter train of thought led him to explain the somewhat accidental way that he became a field ethnographer, and how that experience gave him a drive to systematise everything he read and everyone he met:

In 1912 I had several — two or three — discussions on theoretical topics with Shternberg. After, I came to the conclusion that we would never understand each other. […] V. V. [Radlov] insisted that I study some group of languages and that I do some fieldwork [to further study them]. He has raised this question several times. My objection was that I could not see myself as a “fieldworker” and would not even know how to start to study a language. V. V. decisively declared that I could do this, and I accepted his judgement, since I trusted him. Nonetheless I refused the financial support that V. V. offered for the first expedition. From the moment of taking this decision I had to meet often with Shternberg, since as V. V. explained to me, Shternberg was responsible for the technical organization [of the expedition] and he advised me not to argue with him. […] However, as soon as Shternberg came into “contact” with me he began to “explain” things to me. […] I had no other choice but to keep silent (molchat’). I first began to formulate the heart of my etnos theory in 1912 partly from analysing literature on a large number of peoples, partly after my experiences with living groups of people in Zabaĭkal’e, and of course partly as a result of my desire to find laws and regularities (zakonomernosti). As I did this I became more and more isolated. I withdrew into my snail’s shell (ushel v ulitku) only continuing to discuss mainly linguistic topics with V. V. (BPANvK 4600-7: 55)

Shirokogoroff’s metaphor of a slowly unwinding snail intriguingly captures how his thinking either recoiled from the intellectual environment around him, or somewhat surreptitiously crawled around it. He confesses that the snail-like trajectory of his thinking was provoked by his fieldwork, and the productive contradiction that that experience created with the received thinking around him in St Petersburg. To link Shirokogoroff’s snail metaphor to his first fieldwork we have to first understand what he understood as the “heart” of his etnos theory.

As discussed in the introduction to this volume, it is not easy to summarize the early versions of etnos theory. This lightly evolutionist and primordialist worldview was pervasive at the end of the nineteenth century in France, Germany and Russia. The theory itself underwent its own involution from an early classificatory definition stressing a “crystallised” identity, single-language use, and a bundle of unique customs to a later version stressing “processes” and “equilibria” (Shirokogoroff 1935). However, Shirokogoroff himself gives us a clue as to the heart of the theory in a footnote first published within a rare Chinese-language journal (Shirokogoroff 1930; 1931; 1970).

This is the only place, published or not, where Shirokogoroff situates his theory mainly against fin de siècle French thinking on ethnie. To contrast his vision to those of Ferdinand de Saussure, Arnold van Gennup, and the prehistorian Félix Regnault, he stresses three elements: that (1) the etnos is first and foremost a “biological unit of man” (Shirokogoroff 1930: 11); that (2) it holds something that we might now describe as its environmental fitness (what Shirokogoroff calls “strength”) (Ibid: 12); and (3) that this bio-spatial unit struggles to obtain an equilibrium against other neighbouring etnoses (Ibid: 16–18). In this text, Shirokogoroff places a great emphasis on the last point — that an etnos can only exist if it is in a state of equilibrium. As proof of the attractiveness of his theory, he cites a miscellaneous pantheon of theorists from Franz Boas to Alfred Lotka who at the time also showed an interest in various forms of equilibria — thereby claiming that his unique invention was “in the air” (Ibid: 16–17n1).

Shirokogoroff’s intense interest in technological skills, corporally borne — existing in a state of unsteady competition with neighbouring groups — can be linked to an early sense of shock and disorientation in his first Siberian fieldwork of 1912. In revisiting this journey, I will try to contextualize what Shirokogoroff understood as his “ethnical equilibrium” by documenting his contribution to anthropometrics, his cataloguing of what I will call “adaptive technologies” and what he saw as the problem of assimilation.

The Mystery of the Missing Tunguses: the 1912 Zabaĭkal Expedition

The 1912 expedition of Sergei and Elizaveta Shirokogoroff was formally sponsored by the Petrograd-based “Russian Committee for the Study of Central and Eastern Asia in its Historical, Archaeological, Linguistic, and Ethnographic Aspects”. This was an early interdisciplinary agency founded by Sergeĭ Ol’denburg in 1903 that brought together scholars from across a variety of institutions to focus on what we might call today “area studies” (Ol’denburg 1903; Kisli͡akov 2013). The committee organized sets of field studies between 1903–1919 among Buri͡ats and Tunguses (Evenkis) in Zabaĭkail’e. According to Shirokogoroff, the key goal of the research was a systematic programme for “minute investigations and the collecting of linguistical and ethnographic material concerning Tungus groups” (Shirokogoroff 1923b: 514).

The focus on Zabaĭkal’e was important for two reasons. First, in Petrograd, it seems there were linguists “anxious” for a detailed dataset on Tungus languages in order to better compile their overview of Siberian, Chinese, and Mongolian languages. Second, it was feared that rapid agricultural development and resettlement here would lead to the disappearance of the Tungus tribes, and with them this important insight into the origins of eastern Asian cultures. Thus a need for comprehensiveness, and what we would call today urgent ethnography, led Radlov to send the young couple to step off their train at the railway station of Urul’ga on 7 June 1912 — the place where Matthias Alexander Castren had started his pioneering study of Tungus dialects during his expedition of 1841–1844 (Castren 1856). The couple, therefore, rather than striking out into the frontier were following a well-documented and well-trodden route (Fig. 5.2).

Fig. 5.2 Topographical Map of Zabaĭkal’e illustrating the routes of the two field expeditions of Sergei and Elizaveta Shirokogoroff in 1912 and 1913. Map by Alessandro Pasquini

A defining moment in this first fieldwork seems to have been their disappointment in not finding the same articulate Tunguses whom Castren had met. In a letter to Lev Shternberg, Shirokogoroff confesses:

We had hoped to find the Tungus language here, but all the Tunguses speak Buri͡at (or likely [Buri͡at-]slang). Those transcriptions which we were able to make show that if the Tungus language is present, it is present in only a very small amount. […] I have to admit, from the bottom of my heart, that I felt somewhat disoriented. I don’t know if I should accept this as a language or not. If they speak a broken Buri͡at, then what would be the reason to study this slang? The Tunguses say that earlier they all spoke Orochen, and that before they could not speak “Tungus” — that is Buri͡at. I decided that while we are living among the Tunguses I will record their misc. words. That’s my conclusion. However when we reach the Orochens I will record them as well (SPF RAN 282-2-319: 2–2v).

In order to properly understand Shirokogoroff’s disorientation it is important to unpack the hierarchy of identity terms used in this region of Eurasia. As viewed from Petrograd, the region was neatly divided between the broad language families of the Mongolic-speaking Buri͡ats and two distinct groups of Tunguses speaking dialects thought to be related to Manchurian. This ethnolinguistic classification overlapped with government taxation units, each calibrated to the “level of culture” of each people. Therefore, the “settled” Mongolic-speaking Buri͡ats would pay fur tax at the highest rate, the “nomadic” (kochevye) Manchu-speaking Tunguses would pay their taxes at a median rate, and the “wandering” (brodi͡achie) Tunguses paid their fur tribute at the lowest rate.

The Shirokogoroffs found that the official picture had either changed, or was never detailed enough. Locally, residents distinguished between reindeer-herding Orochens, who were often described as being “wild”, and horse-pastoralists — “who once spoke Orochen” — whom they labelled locally as “Tunguses”. For a linguistically-oriented fieldworker, it must have been a shock to digest the fact that a clearly Mongolian speech pattern, albeit creolized, was labelled locally as “Tungus”.1 The interplay in Shirokogoroff’s mind of pure categories, which did not really exist, and creole categories, which were vibrantly-lived everywhere, would become a central obsession in his thinking. What he would later call his drive “to find laws and regularities” would lead him to treat the linguistic categories as epiphenomenal and to search for regularities in physical form and adaptation.

The couple adapted to their situation in a number of ways. Sergei abandoned his linguistic work and quickly implemented a programme of anthropometric measurement, combined with a detailed household survey, and a set of formal drawings and photographic portraits to accentuate the anthropometry. The main data-set from this part of the fieldwork was a complete set of anthropometric measurements of 91 individuals in Urul’ga, of which the core measurements were of 65 Tungus men and fifteen Tungus women all of which had “pure” Tungus parentage (Shirokogorov and Shirokogorova 1914: 132).

The couple, then, changed their fieldwork itinerary to try to also patch up their linguistic programme. They chose to move from the steppes around Urul’ga northwards into the mountainous taiga to a tributary of the Nercha river called the Akima with the goal of finding a group of Orochens who, as it were, did not yet speak Tungus (Fig. 5.2). They found a settled community of Orochens called Tyksyr consisting of several built log structures in a meadow adjacent to the taiga which served as a hub for other reindeer-herding Orochens. They were to live in this community for an entire month. According to their joint fieldwork report, they collected a vocabulary of 1,800 words, 130 phrases, and five short texts (Shirokogorov and Shirokogorova 1914: 135).2 We also know from Elizaveta’s diary that a programme of anthropometric measurement and anthropometric photography was implemented at Tyksyr, with Elizaveta’s participation, and perhaps even led by her (Fig. 5.3). These measurements, oddly, were never published and were later described by Sergei as being “incomplete”. The couple also prospected for and opened several Orochen graves in order to retrieve the skulls of the deceased (Fig. 5.4). Perhaps the most significant part of the Tyksyr collections was a set of artefacts demonstrating aspects of Orochen material cultural. These are a set of small sewn items and a collection of bows and arrows (MAĖ collection No 2003). These items would play an important role in Shirokogoroff’s later thinking about Orochen adaptive technology.

Fig. 5.3 Orochen Gorbun as a subject of anthropometric photography in the village of Tyksyr. “Gorbun” is a nickname for “hunchback”. Photo by Sergei Shirokogoroff (MAĖ 2002-54). © Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

Fig. 5.4 An Orochen above-ground burial, likely for a child, near the settlement of Tyksyr. Elizaveta Shirokogoroff recorded the following in her diary: “2 August. We woke up early due to my ill health. We opened three graves: a child’s grave, a woman’s and a man’s. […] The child’s body was naked. He only had a small cup beside him. All of the bodies had decomposed. We then made tea for the women of the camp, and let them listen to the phonograph” (SPF ARAN 849-5-803: 29). Photo by Sergei Shirokogoroff (MAĖ 2002–12). © Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

It remains unclear if the anthropometric programme, which the Shirokogoroffs suddenly pulled out of their saddlebags, was originally part of Shternberg’s plan for the fieldwork. It seems rather unlikely that this was a last-minute improvisation. On leaving St Petersburg, Sergei had taken care to pack with him his Swiss-made anthropometer (a set of calibrated rods holding a set of clamps used for measuring the body), and two callipers (used for measuring the skull and hands) — suggesting that he had always planned to follow his own programme of measurement (Shirokogoroff 1923a: 1). We also know that he signed out his equipment from the common storeroom of equipment that Ol’denburg and Shternberg kept for the Russian Committee for the Study of Central and Eastern Asia (SPF ARAN 148-1-22: 68). Perhaps his intention to perform an anthropometric study was one reason why he refused the funding offered by Radlov and preferred to self-finance the expedition himself.

It also remains unclear how Shirokogoroff actually received his anthropometric training. The anthropometry of Paul Broca would certainly have formed a large part of the courses that Sergei audited at l’École d’anthropologie in Paris. We further know that Sergei may have audited two courses in St Petersburg taught by Fёdor Volkov on ethnography and human anatomy (TsGIA SPb 14-3-59098: 29v). However, more likely than not, Sergei was improvising in this fieldwork since it seems he had no direct experience carrying out these measurements in the past.

What is clear is that the anthropometric measurements of the Zabaĭkal Tunguses and Orochens would exercise a lasting effect on Sergei’s thinking and writing. They would be the topic of his first unpublished manuscript entitled The Nomadic Tunguses: Anthropological Studies (SPF ARAN 849-6-806), which he wrote in between the first and the second Zabaĭkal expeditions. Further, we know that by 20 September 1917, Sergei Shirokogoroff would be co-opted into the role of Head of Department of Physical Anthropology in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography by recommending himself not by his training “but by his enthusiasm” (SPF ARAN 4-4-672: 1). His first academic publication was a methodological essay on how to properly measure Eurasian peoples (wherein he advertised the existence of his then unpublished anthropological measurements from Zabaĭkal’e) (Shirokogorov 1919: 25,41). The measurements that the couple first made would be analysed and published only in 1923 in a wide-ranging volume entitled The Anthropology of Northern China comparing a number of peoples across eastern Eurasia (Shirokogoroff 1923a). This publication shortly followed the Russian-language debut of his etnos theory first in pamphlet form and then in book form (Shirokogorov 1923, 1922).

From the surviving field materials, it would seem that the anthropometric work was not easy to do. In his published work, Sergei mentions that he was forced to omit certain anthropometric body measurements in order to minimize the discomfort of his informants (Shirokogoroff 1923a: 2; Shirokogorov 1919: 18). In her diary, Elizaveta notes that many of the Tunguses living closer to the railway were skittish of the anthropometric work, and would have to be convinced:

3 July [1912]

We arrived at 2 o’clock in Deli͡un. Our neighbours came by and we talked.

Sergei went out visiting the i͡urts, but he was only able to complete his survey in 8 i͡urts.

Everyone treats us with mistrust and with the fear that their life would later get worse [if they participated]. Many are even afraid to be photographed. They even do not ask to be photographed.

Sergei has to endure many squabbles. He patiently explained why the measurements were necessary. In Deli͡un the Tunguses are more skittish than in other places. This seems to be due to their proximity to civilisation (SPF ARAN 849-5-803: 12-12v).

To allay the Tunguses’ fears, Elizaveta made creative use of the phonograph she and her husband carried with them. Almost every evening was spent replaying the songs recorded on that day, or playing music that the couple brought with them. In their jointly published field report, the couple report that having a phonograph is highly recommended for any fieldwork:

Based on our own experience with using phonographic recordings, we came to the conclusion that a phonograph, even of an older design, is very useful and necessary for fieldwork especially for the study of motifs. Playing-back our already-recorded motifs and stores made such a wonderful impression on the Orochens and Tunguses. The stories that they themselves recorded were understandable, and comic stories made them lively and provoked them to laugh. I [sic] would like to note that not all Orochens enjoyed European music but some found it so pleasing that they listened to the same cylinder three or four times. The first part of Beethoven’s IV symphony [Symphony no. 4 in b-flat major opis 60] was particularly popular (Shirokogorov and Shirokogorova 1914: 136).

In their day-to-day work, a phonograph concert was often a first step to organizing the anthropometric work:

19 [July 1912] We were famished upon returning home and we immediately started to prepare food and we shared it with <unclear> the Elder and Kandidat. The latter was extremely happy and smiled to himself. Our moods were very high. We took a few photographs and wound-up the phonograph. One of the boys out of excitement sung four wonderful cylinders. Sergei decided to start his anthropometric measurements.

He measured two without any resistance. However when he called for the Elder’s nephew it immediately triggered an unexpected resistance. The Elder categorically stated he would not give up his nephew since things would only get worse for him if did. [He cried out,] “Leave me the boy! I beg you, please leave him” with a fearful, threatening intonation. He was extremely distraught at that time. He would not listen to anyone, and all of the time interrupted and stated his position. He did not seem to have any effect on the bystanders and I think that in a little while we can go back to the anthropometry (SPF ARAN 849-5-803: 19v-20).

From what we can deduct from the archive, the anthropometric work always had a similar routine. Typically men, women, and children — or preferably entire families — would be posed in front of the same standard backdrop — typically a log building. If individual portraits were taken they were done frontal and profile. Extrapolating from the Shirokogoroffs’ publications, calipers were used to measure the length and breadth of the head, the forehead and important feature such as the ocular and nasal cavities. The anthropometer was used to measure the body height and the length of the forearms and thighs. The device was mounted on a plank evidently preventing Sergei from measuring the leg bones. Twenty-three absolute measurements were taken in what was said to be an international programme approved in Geneva in 1912 (Shirokogoroff 1923a: 1–3).

An interesting photographic artefact of this fieldwork is the smiling portrait of one young Tungus (Fig. 5.5). At first glance it seems a typical anthropometric photograph, with the subject holding up a sign declaring himself to be of mixed descent. His somewhat puzzled expression stands in a sullen contrast to the label, making it an evocative photograph. However, from consulting Elizaveta’s diary, we learn that Mélange was not a category but a nickname that the couple gave to one of their most important informants in the village. Mélange helped them organize meetings, helped with translations, and in general facilitated their fieldwork. The photograph, therefore, seems somewhat more like a souvenir (despite the anthropometric notations below the title). This playful use of the concept of mixed descent seemed to foreshadow the creative way that Shirokogoroff would soon write about the subject.

Fig. 5.5 A portrait of the local Tungus guide “Mélange”. The sign he is holding is in Elizaveta’s handwriting. The notations likely mean Tungus-Orochen. This would be consistent with other handwritten notes. The bottom line is more mysterious but could refer to parentage — such as “mère — père”. This would be the only surviving photograph classified in this manner (MAĖ 2002–24). © Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

Upon returning to St Petersburg, the first intellectual product of the fieldwork was devoted to a short unpublished essay on physical anthropology focussing exclusively on the mysterious nomadic Tunguses (SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 239, 242, 244–56) along with a second, perhaps linked, fragment describing their geographic location (SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 72, 100–24v). The anthropological essay consists of sets of absolute skull and body measurements, and coefficients derived therefrom, enlivened by a set of ten drawings and photographs (which are missing from the archive). From his initial measurements of the above mentioned 91 individuals, Shirokogoroff distinguished two different groups by the length of their heads, their body height, and the length of their arms — which he labelled type A and type B (Fig. 5.6). He associated the long-headed type B with the horse pastoralist Tunguses — especially those living at Naryn-Talacha (Fig. 5.7). He also associated this type with the Buri͡at population. He associated his short-headed type A with the cattle pastoralist Tunguses at Torgakon (Fig. 5.8). He notes that there were signs of another unidentified type — likely that associated with the reindeer herding Orochens — which Shirokogoroff would hint at in many publications but never specify.

Fig. 5.6 Table of anthropometric qualities distinguishing type A and type B (SPF ARAN 849-6-806 249). © St Petersburg Filial of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Fig. 5.7 “Type Beta”: two unidentified Buri͡at men posing at the steppe at Naryn Talacha (MAĖ 2002–64). © Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

Fig. 5.8 “Type Alpha”: Tungus Afanasiĭ with his wife and another unidentified relative posing at their home in Torgakon (MAĖ 2002–81). © Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

The conclusion to this unpublished manuscript outlines an ambitious pan-hemispheric research programme based on his analysis of these 91 individuals. By consulting sets of anthropometric photographs made by other fieldworkers, he identified similar long-headed types among Soĭots (SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 253), Eniseĭ Osti͡aks [Kets] (Ibid: 254), the Northern Tunguses documented by Ivan I. Maĭnov (1901) (Ibid: 255), and even North American indigenous peoples (Ibid: 256). Here he for the first time makes references to the need to critically evaluate “ethnic groups” (ėtnicheskie gruppy) by making a call to liberate the local peoples of Siberia and eastern Asia from belonging to a “Mongoloid race” (Ibid: 254).

From this first fieldwork, and from a relatively small sample of measurements, Sergei penned his first insight that anthropometric typologies could be used to break down the dominant system of ethnolinguistic classification. There seems to be a direct link of this ambitious programme to his disenchantment with the linguistic categories he found on the ground during his first fieldwork.

It is remarkable how stable Shirokogoroff’s first field typology became. In 1923, in The Anthropology of Northern China (Shirokogoroff 1923a), he would republish the same measurements of the same 91 individuals he met at Urul’ga in a comparative dataset with the measurements taken from Chinese, Manchus and Koreans. In this work the Buri͡ats and Nomadic Tunguses became type-Delta, while the reindeer herding Orochens were distinguished as type-Gamma (Fig. 5.9). He later used the fact that Gamma-type features were distributed all across China as a proof of the southern origin of the Tungus tribes and his hypothesis that they were a “guiding [rukovodi͡ashchiĭ] etnos of Asia (Shirokogoroff 1925: 134; 1923b: 618; 1926: 177 n4).

Fig. 5.9 “Type Gamma”. This photograph from Tyksyr was published in Czaplicka’s classic work Aboriginal Siberia (Czaplicka 1914: plate 11). The original negative, reproduced here, is in MAĖ 2002–42. Shirokogoroff published a correction to her attributions of his photograph in a self-published brochure where he identifies the man as a “Nerchinsk Tungus representing type Gamma” (Shirokogoroff 1932: 47 n39). © Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

It would seem that Shirokogoroff’s first unpublished treatise on physical anthropology was written in a flush of enthusiasm and remained a point of reference throughout his life. He had intended to publish it, but the couple left for Chita almost immediately on 10 May 1913 for their second expedition, and with the exception of short return visit in 1917, never again returned to St Petersburg. The typescript on physical anthropology was constantly cited by Shirokogoroff as if it had been published and consultable, and in some cases, with the fear and conviction that it had already been widely pirated. Very much later he would confide to his friend Kotwicz his worries that Shternberg coveted the manuscript as a “museum reference” (BPANvK 4600 t.7 folio 55v).

It is curious that in these 1913 texts one also finds a politicised distaste for how the Orochens are treated and a liberal concern over the “dying-out” of this nationality. This is somewhat ironic given his sharp criticism of Shternberg for his paternalistic politics (see chapter 6). This section differs little from that of other Russian liberal writers of the turn of the last century:

Recently, Russian traders play a large role, if not the main role in the lives of Orochens. They call the traders “friends” (druz’i͡a). These friends literally rob these unlucky wild people (dikareĭ). Their system of fleecing the Orochens is very simple. The trader gives an Orochen on credit cloth, dishes, gunpowder, flour, etc., and the Orochen is obliged to repay the debt either in December, when the squirrel season is over, or by Ivanov Day [23 June], when the reindeer velvet horn season is finished. At this time the nearby Russian settlements organize a market, and the Orochens all gather there. Since there are no other buyers other than the traders who had advanced credits, the traders set the prices on the fur or horns, etc. The Orochens are forced to accept the offer of their “friends” at the prices that are convenient for the trader. […] Gradually out of the decline and death of their reindeer, the Orochens are becoming fewer and soon will die out completely, as many other Siberian peoples have died out (SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 110–11).

It would seem that his first shock at encountering a highly creolized group at Urul’ga, that was neither Mongol nor Tungus, took hold of Shirokogoroff’s imagination. To his credit, what he first experienced as an enigmatic creolism — a population lacking a single clear language but yet displaying a strong cultural “equilibrium” — did not lead him to turn his back on the community and discard his measurements as polluted. Instead, according to his reminiscences in 1930, it drove him to form an early idea of how “growth and decline” [assimilation] could lead to a newly sustainable cultural form:

Early work on the problem of population and correlation of cultural and other phenomena characteristic of the etnos in 1912 led me to the idea of binding this relationship into [a] simple formula […] It may here be noted that the idea of such a relationship was formulated during my first travelling in Siberia when I saw a series of ethnical groups showing the same kind of equilibrium, but existing under different conditions. The field observations of other groups during following expeditions (1913–1918) has strengthened the impression of the reality of such a relationship, which was naturally supported by well-known facts from historic records, and by observations of other travellers (Shirokogoroff 1930: 16 n1).

Typically for Shirokogoroff, and frustratingly for his readers, it is never quite clear what he imagined as the “same kind of equilibrium”. The formula he cites parodies anthropometric calculations to demonstrate that a robust sustainable cultural type — the etnos — can come about through the balance of technological advances, population expansion, climate — all of which are confined by the competitive pressure of neighbouring “ethnical units” (Shirokogoroff 1930: 34–35). It remains unclear how anyone could ever assign numbers to these elements in the same way that one could measure a skull — and Shirokogoroff nowhere provides an example of his equation in action. The only detailed examples he gives are random cultural or historical examples, such as the rise and fall of the popularity of the dormeuse horse carriage in France (Ibid: 30–33) or how the Manchu plough and Manchu millet mill facilitated Manchu territorial expansion (Shirokogoroff 1924b: 135–38). As will be discussed in the next section, a similar techno-cultural trigger in Tungus civilisation was the shaman’s costume — a veritable toolbox of metallic instruments used to regulate relationships with the land-spirits.

The common denominator in these three examples was how a single determining material artefact could facilitate the expansion of an ethno-cultural group over space. What remains unique in this anthropometric-fueled ecological anthropology was that he did not reduce adaptation to physical form. The mixture of anthropological types among the pastoralist Tungus was proof that their robust livelihood attracted and assimilated bodies from surrounding groups. What he saw in the adaptation of the bodies of the “older” type Gamma-form was an equally robust adaptation that was forced to confine itself in the mountainous regions “away from civilization” for ecological reasons. Through his interest in adaptation and the selective use of new technologies, including new languages, Shirokogoroff’s snail had crawled some distance away from the authority of ethnolinguistic typologies.

A Curious Guest at the Wedding: The 1913 Zabaĭkal Expedition

Fig. 5.10 Sergei Shirokogoroff at home. St Petersburg. Before 1917 (EVR)

The Shirokogoroffs did not rest much in St Petersburg (Fig. 5.10). Aside from drafting at least three manuscripts over the winter of 1912–1913, they lobbied for, and accepted, funding for a return expedition to Zabaĭkal’e. They departed St Petersburg on 10 May 1913 and would remain in the field until the frosty deep autumn of 20 September 1913. The Shirokogoroffs re-focused the work of the second expedition on the reindeer-herding Orochens living in the Northerly taiga regions of what is today Zabaĭkal’skiĭ Kraĭ and Buri͡atii͡a. With superior financing, the couple was able to purchase a team of horses and hire guides — whom Shirokogoroff, perhaps ironically, evaluated anthropometrically:

I decided to change the guide/translator. But aside from him I had hired yet another Russian-anthropoid for the loading of horses, the care of the horses, etc. This expense will mean we will overspend our anticipated [budget] but there was nothing to be done. One man cannot look after 6 horses. I bought the horses at a price not over what we had budgeted (SPF ARAN 282-2-319: 3v).

They began their work this time along the Nercha river tributaries and rather ambitiously covered the entire territory of Zabaĭkal’e returning via Lake Baikal (Fig. 5.1). According to their report they covered 1,500 versty [1,600 km] on horseback (Shirokogorov and Shirokogorova 1914).

This expedition is not well represented in the archives (see Appendix 1). We do know from their published report that they compiled further word lists and texts documenting the Nerchinsk and Baunt Orochen dialects, that they measured another 111 individuals (mostly men), and collected an equally rich library of 100 photographic plates, twenty wax cylinder recordings, drawings, and artefacts (Shirokogorov and Shirokogorova 1914) — although most of these have not been found. A rich collection of shamanic artefacts from this region, however, does still exist in the museum (MAĖ collection No 2216). Aside from the published reports, the richest source we have on this expedition are a series of letters that he shared with Shternberg from the field, and a comprehensive untitled unpublished manuscript which Shirokogoroff would later cite in English as The Ethnography of the Orochen of Transbaikalia.

The letters that Shirokogoroff sent from the field were confident and operational. He provided Shternberg with updates on the quantities of anthropometric measurements they managed to make and often made requests for money to purchase artefacts for the museum. An intriguing part of the correspondence, which is partly reflected in the published reports, is the fieldwork method of amassing ethnographic and anthropometric data by participating in regional weddings. As Sergei would recount to Shternberg in one letter:

As you can see, I did make it in the end to the Bargunzin taiga. This came about due to a great degree of luck. After one Orochen wedding we travelled with the Orochens further westwards to another wedding. After the second wedding, we travelled with the Orochens to a third. These wedding-excursions were very successful. Many people gathered together and it was possible to choose the appropriate [informants] for our work. At the weddings it was possible to even find the shaman with whom I think I have struck up a friendship. I ran into one elder at one wedding, and at the third another was supposed to attend. Both of them I believe will be able to give us linguistic data - stories. I have been able make a lot of ethnographic observations. There are some differences between the Barguzin [Orochens} and the Nercha [Orochens]. They also differ linguistically, although by a small degree. Because of the large weddings we were able to measure 47 people. I intend to measure the same amount at the third. In a word, we will have anthropological data. Up until now we have travelled 600 verst on horseback (SPF ARAN 282-2-319: 5–5v).

The correspondence gives a clear impression of the routinization of a mobile laboratory where the Shirokogoroffs would take advantage of these festive assemblies of kin to photograph, measure skulls, and document folklore. It’s possible that the festive group and family portraits that the couple likely took during these weddings might have been designed also to function as surreptitious anthropometric photographs (Fig. 5.11).

Fig. 5.11 A “formal reception” but perhaps a wedding photograph taken during the 1912 expedition in the village of Naryn Talacha, in June. The Shirokogoroffs are sitting in the middle of the photograph in white clothing (Fragment MAĖ 2002–66). © Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

This wedding-centred fieldwork seemed to have had a second far more interesting impact on the Shirokogoroffs’ thinking. The surviving manuscripts suggest that the attention of the couple seems to have shifted away from an interest in anthropometry to classic topics of social organization and kinship. This is deeply reflected in Sergei’s long manuscript on Orochen ethnography. At 189 folios, it is by far his most complex reflection on the reindeer herding Orochens. It moves paragraph by paragraph to summarize economic activities, kinship, material culture, and belief in much the objective fashion as one would expect to find in a late nineteenth-century text. It reads very well for the ethnological standards of the time.

Moreover, the Orochens in this text are recognizable — the text speaks dryly but truthfully to a way of life which to some extent is still present in the northern regions of Zabaĭkal’skiĭ Kraĭ. In some sense, this focused ethnography reads more convincingly than the assorted snapshots of Orochen life which would later be cut and pasted into composite works such as the Social Organization and the Psychomental Complex. This manuscript would never be published, and given the haphazard way it was deposited in the archive, was likely never properly read by anyone (see Appendix 1).

The original intention of the Shirokogoroffs was to publish the text upon their return from their 1916–1917 Manchurian fieldwork, but a series of events prevented this. First, for reasons beyond their control, the couple made a hasty decision to leave Russia in the events leading up to the second Russian revolution — which separated them from their archive of drawings and manuscripts (see chapter 6). Further, it seems that Sergei’s thinking had continued to unwind since the fieldwork. Writing the foreword to his Social Organization in Shanghai in 1929, he dreamt of writing a manuscript exclusively about material culture based on the Zabaĭkal fieldwork should he ever regain access to these collections. Further, he explained how his thoughts on Tungus identity had changed after his 1916–1917 fieldwork with the Manchus. He saw the Manchu complex (Shirokogoroff 1924b) as a pale reflection of a more general Tungus adaptation which was best illustrated by the Orochens with whom they once lived. The unpublished manuscript on the Orochens, therefore, is very useful as a snapshot of his thinking about social identity, and how it might have unwound in a different direction instead of the one neat spiral pathway that gave birth to his mature etnos theory in 1933.

There are two striking qualities of this enormous manuscript, which may come as a surprise to those familiar with Shirokogoroff’s later English-language work. The first is a somewhat disorienting shift in the way he identifies his subject of study — the term Tungus is almost entirely absent in this text. The second is the heavy emphasis on the classification and description of artefacts, clothing, weapons, and tools, which seems to be the result of his ongoing interest in adaptive technology.

Shirokogoroff tended to frame his study in terms of the administrative and tax divisions which divided Tungus and Orochen groups geographically. However, this text has the quality of an investigative report, which probes the inaccuracies of Tsarist administrative classifications. Breaking with his earlier texts, from the first paragraphs he distinguished the reindeer-herding Orochens from the pastoralist Tungus, applying the the term Tungus — which today is usually associated with reindeer herders — exclusively to horse pastoralist populations:

Officially, the Orochons are divided into 6 groups: Baunt, Angara, Podelmor, 2 groups of Nercha, and finally the Olekma Orochen. The first three groups are called Tunguses and the latter three — Orochens. I am accepting only the second name and will apply it all Zabaĭkal Tungus reindeer herders (folio 18).

[The name Orochen] is derived from orón — reindeer, and it means “of the deer”. In contrast one can hear múrcher, murche’sal, which are derived from muri’in — horse, or perhaps one might translate as “of the horse” (SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 19).

The slippery nomenclature used by Shirokogoroff for these regional groups can be linked to his first shock over the inconsistency between the hearsay categories in the Tungus villages and the authorized identifiers in Tsarist tax registers. In this manuscript, he chose to divorce the “real” reindeer-herding Orochens from the Tungus label, relegating the Tungus to the mixed, creolized steppe communities to the south. This pragmatic classification, which cleaves close to local ways of speaking, would not emerge in the published work of the couple. In the jointly published field report (1914), the couple would place their emphasis on Buri͡ats and Tunguses (and the different types of pure or impure groups in between) with a fleeting reference to reindeer-herding Orochens. In a later publication of the couple’s future fieldwork in Manchuria, Elizaveta would flip the classification by making Orochen the master category for all of the groups — horse pastoralist and/or reindeer pastoralist — that are today distinguished as separate Evenki and Orochen nationalities (Shirokogorova 1919). In his overview of all his fieldwork (Shirokogoroff 1923b), and then in each of his famous publications, Sergei would revert to grouping all the Zabaĭkal indigenes together as Tunguses.

On the one hand, there is nothing terribly surprising about these shifts in ethnographic terminology. Ethnographers wield an extraordinary power to define the boundaries of groups and to offer expert advice on which groups are pure and which are mixed. However, given that Shirokogoroff’s later theory was defined by its ability to peer inside this process, one is tempted to hold him to a higher standard. The casualness with which Shirokogoroff himself assigned and reassigned identities suggests that at least to some degree the equilibrium-formation process of the etnos was as much in the eye of the beholder than an objective reality on the ground.

On the other hand, the use of local hearsay classifications in direct contradiction to formal administrative and linguistic orthodoxy points to an early instance of Shirogoroff’s use of what we today would describe as performative identities. By citing the roots of local expressions, Shirokogoroff employs an evaluative framework within which “real” Orochens are the ones travelling with reindeer, while murcher travel with horses. The fact that ethnic names might be keyed to how people move on the landscape is a type of pragmatic classification. This is one example of how his somewhat unwieldy, mathematical system of identity might have unwound in a different direction towards a culturalist or relativistic understanding of identity. It is directly related to his ecological or “equilibric” vision of distinguishing reindeer pastoralists from horse pastoralists.

A similar argument can be made of Shirogoroff’s discussion of clan identity and kinship discourse — much of which was also never carried over into the published, English language works. The discussion of clan names begins in a section on “clan groups” (SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 25v-26v). The concept of a group is described as a finer designation than the regional/dialect groups thought to exist among Barguzin or Angara Orochens. From the first paragraph, Shirokogoroff notes that the three officially designated clans “absolutely do not correspond to reality” (Ibid: 25v). In order to untangle the real from the unreal, Shirokogoroff organizes his fieldnotes into a table showing the presence and absence of exogamy between named clans (Ibid: 29). In his analysis, Shirokogoroff places a special emphasis on the suffix -gir, which is often placed at the end of many Evenki clan names, as a special marker to distinguish ancient clans (Ibid). The conclusion of his comparison is a second table which breaks down the three officially recognized administrative clans into two parallel sets of local clan names as recognized by the Orochens themselves (Fig. 5.12).

Fig. 5.12 A handwritten table demonstrating how official Tsarist administrative units break up into living clan groupings (SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 29v). © St Petersburg Filial of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Unfortunately, this particular discussion on clans does not branch out into a pragmatic or performative examination of marriage strategy and alliance. Missing in the manuscript are illustrations of clan fission or fusion in practice. The manuscript presents an authoritative summary of how each clan “fits”. This is somewhat disappointing knowing, as we do, that the couple participated in a large number of weddings, and presumably witnessed the joking, and the inevitable skirmishes that would have occurred during these events. They do provide, however some intriguing hints of who Orochens consider to be a good match:

The Orochens say that marriages with Tungus women are not desirable since the Tungus women will run away from their husbands. I can see that this would be possible since these women are used to living all of the time in warm dwellings in the steppes. Life in the taiga — in the tents — with all of the difficulties of constant travel on reindeer, and the care of the reindeer, would make it difficult to get used to these new conditions. For a Tungus woman, a marriage with an Orochen would be considered a mésalliance [sic]. The Tunguses, in their turn, look down upon the Orochens since “Orochens do not own permanent dwellings and wander the forests like animals”. The Tunguses adopted this attitude to the Orochens likely from the Buri͡ats (folio 33).

On the whole, in this early manuscript there is a strong ambiguity in Shirokogoroff’s ethnography about the solidity of group boundaries. On the one hand, he confidently dissolves existing governmental administrative divisions with evidence of the mismatch between exogamy and alliance practice and pre-existing designations. Further, he is sensitive to local racial hierarchies and performative aspects of identity management. However, on the other hand, he asserts the authority of the urban ethnographer to declare correct ethnic applications (although here his own designations vacillate back and forth).

The second strong, and sometimes surprising quality of Shirokogoroff’s writing after the second expedition is its emphasis on material culture in almost every chapter. The Orochen manuscript is divided into four numbered chapters roughly arranged by topic: Geography, Subsistence Strategy, Social Relationships, and Belief. While at first glance each bundle of topics sound like a classic ethnological overview, each chapter is built around descriptions of objects. Thus, a description of hunting strategy is not complete without a three-page typology of arrows (folios 43–44). Or, a description of worldview is framed by a description of clothing the Orochen shaman would wear with all of its metallic icons (folios 66–68, 219–35). On the one hand, this is perhaps not surprising. The young Shirokogoroff was trained as a museum cataloguer and an avid collector of statistics about things. His typology of arrows would likely have informed late nineteenth century ethnological debates about cultural evolution. His description of a shaman’s dress would undoubtedly be used to contextualize the artefacts already on display in the museum. The fact that every two-sentence description also had an Orochen word attached to it undoubtedly reflects his first research goal as a collector of word lists.

However reading between the lines, the sometimes numbing descriptions of material culture can also be read with his eye for “growth and decline” and “ethnical equilibria”. Thus in the midst of a discussion of hunting technique, we are given a relatively long section on household belongings (utvar’), ranging from tea kettles to reindeer harnesses. Shirokogoroff’s attention to materiality would be on par with a contemporary ethnoarchaeologist. He would distinguish the materials within an object as a way of establishing inter-regional or inter-etnos contacts. On the other hand, he would be quick to evaluate the pragmatic qualities of the acquired objects contextualizing how they fit into the “equilibrium” of a certain subsistence strategy — for example, that of a highly mobile hunting camp. Thus, the objects of daily use on the one hand draw Orochens into regular communication with their neighbours, yet within a curious limit that defines their lifestyle:

[…] they take from the I͡Akuts most of the daily items they need like the tools needed for working with skins, and previously, spears and machetes (pal’my). They obtain copper items from the Buri͡ats: pots, pipes, and similar items. Today the household items of the Russians are pushing out the I͡Akut and Buri͡at items. Copper pots are being replaced by teapots and enamel dishes. Wooden plates are being replaced with ceramic plates.

The most necessary household goods for the Orochens are a pot, kettle, dishes, tables, a set of birch-bark containers, sacks of various sizes made of skins, hooks for setting above the fire, spoons, pliers, large and small knives, a spear, a saw, and an axe. The richer [Orochens], that is the ones with more people in their family have more items, but their quantity is always limited. Orochens do not like unnecessary items and they abandon them when travelling (Folio 130).

A similar line of argument characterizes his description of shamanic equipment. Shirokogoroff states that he received his information from ten different shamans, the majority of whom were women. According to what he was told shamans divide themselves into those performing with elk-styled costumes and those performing with “duck-” [more likely, loon] styled costumes. Only one shaman in the region performed as an elk (Fig. 5.13). The dearth of shamanic elks was associated by the Orochens themselves with the decline in the good fortunes of the Zabaĭkal Orochens (Folio 58). The growth and decline of the Orochen lifestyle is thus roughly reflected in their costumes. This idea is crudely thought out in the manuscript.

Fig. 5.13 Detailed photograph of a Tungus “elk” shaman and his costume taken at Naryn-Talacha around 7 June 1912. The photograph emphasises the metallic elements to the costume including the circular mirror tolchi (MAĖ 2002–58). © Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

Here Shirokogoroff carries on a rhetorical argument with his Orochen shaman informants across several folios about meaning behind the quantity and character of the iron artefacts sewn onto a shamanic costume. He notes with cautious irony that the “duck” shamans claim that the rare and hard-to-find metallic objects should ideally not be sewn onto their costumes:

On one [duck] tunic one might find only the bones of [a set of] wings, and on another there might be different bones — the backbone or the shoulder blades, etc. It can be the case that there would not be one metallic object on either the tunic or the entire costume. According to the shamans, a real duck-costume should not have any metallic objects […] the metallic objects could interfere during the shaman’s flight — they might make the shaman too heavy. This explanation is unlikely to be true […] (folios 224–25).

Shirokogoroff goes on to argue with the consistency of this argument demonstrating that various types of metallic objects, or even “elk” objects can be found on other air-bound costumes (folios 222–26). From other parts of this manuscript it seems clear that the small society of local shamans was struggling to keep up with their clan duties and ritual performances in this quickly changing environment. Much like those squirrel hunters suffering the exploitative terms of trade of their “friends”, the shamans seemed to have adapted their performances and their equipment to their available materials. It is in somewhat argumentative passages like this that one can find glimpses of the more pragmatic descriptions Shirokogoroff would write later of the various types of spirits and the clever ways that shamans engage with them. Shirokogoroff concludes his overview of shamanic apparati with a touching insight into the difficult if not exploitative life of a shaman:

It is without a doubt that each performance extracts much energy and strength from a shaman. After a session, and I have witnessed three large performances and at least ten smaller ones, the shaman is literally exhausted, even if he had not drank [alcohol] or smoked. […] I twice observed that the [female] shamans shed tears during the performance at particularly pathetic moments. At the end of the performance all male and female shamans were covered in a cold sweat (folios 58–59).

While grounded in the objective style of a nineteenth-century ethnological manuscript, Shirokogoroff’s first ethnological treatise describes how various aspects of Orochen society remains in equilibrium or risks being torn apart. In this way, the text frames the goals of the second expedition to document a population described by the state as either Tungus or Orochen, who at their heart formed a single etnos. The core of this etnos was an anthrometrically distinct people, with a hunting equilibrium defined by their modest use of adaptive technologies. At the same time, one can see glimpses of a thoughtful, pragmatically engaged people who — through ritual and clan organizaiton — creatively adapted to an exploitative colonial situation.

Conclusion: “Equilibria”, “Valence”, and the Snail Metaphor

Sergei Shirokogoroff would go on to build on his intuition that the heavily assimilated, and poverty-striken Zabaĭkal Orochens and Tunguses nevertheless displayed a unique “ethnical equilibrium”. In contrast to the declining Manchus, he represented the Tunguses and Orochens of his very first fieldwork as people with a high cultural consistency despite their vulnerability to external forces. He noted that they would prefer to retreat to the most inaccessible alpine taiga to continue to hunt and herd reindeer than be incorporated into the expanding Mongolic milieu around them. His painstaking physical anthropological work was intended to illustrate the continuity of physcial types within the groups in spite of linguistic and cultural assimilation. From his first fieldwork he developed the counter-intuitive idea that a demographically sparse, hunting culture could define the ethnic landscape of half of a continent.

As he wrote up his material first within White-controlled Vladivostok, and then in China, he began to design the increasingly convoluted equations which still puzzle some readers today. Sergei would come to represent the “ethnical equilibrium as the coefficient ω [small omega]. This coefficient could be calculated by estimating the density of the population and relating it to a numeric figure for territory to a numerical value of culture. Critically, to make the equation work, a highly trained expert was needed to put a number to “cultured-ness” (Shirokogoroff 1924a: 11). The strength of a people’s “ethnical equilibrium” would further be influenced by the vibrancy of its neighbours (Fig. 5.14a). Here, Shirokogoroff tried to model the way that one cultural group could influence, or be incorporated into a neighbouring group.

In his early work, using this formula, Shirokogoroff portrayed a model of the strength of demography and technology over space. The result was a concept that to contemporary readers seems to combine the anthropogeography of Ratzel, with a concern over performed ethnic boundaries anticipating those of Frederik Barth. Shirokogoroff noted that certain cultures had a higher “valence” (valentnost’) or what we can understand as a “capacity to incorporate neighbouring cultures” (Fig. 5.14b). This process — what we might today call an “ability to assimilate” — nevertheless could also weaken the internal cultural consistency of the expanding culture.

The expanding culture thereby might find itself in “disequilibrium” if it did not compensate for its growth with some fantastic technological innovation — like the Manchu plough, the French dormeuse, or the Tungus shaman’s dress. Failing that, it would risk being thrown into decline and subsequent incorporation into some other group. Shirokogoroff called the pressure between ethnic groups an “interethnical valience”, which he represented with the constant ε [small epsilon] (Shirokogoroff 1924a: 23–24). Frustratingly, he rather poorly translated his ambitious model into English. He dubbed it the “actual interethnical value”. This clunky translation likely confused many of his English-language readers perhaps leading some reviewers to describe his theories as “mystical”.

Fig. 5.14a The ethnical equilibrium as represented in The Psychomental Complex of the Tungus (Shirokogoroff 1935: 15). The original formulae were published in a less-compact form in the pamphlet Ethnical Unit and Milieu (Shirokogoroff 1924a)

Fig. 5.14b The “actual interethnical value” [valence] as represented in Ethnical Unit and Milieu (Shirokogoroff 1924a: 15)

Shirokogoroff’s involuted equations are likely recognized, but not taken seriously, by most specialists today. Their elevated pretensions to mathematical precision confuse humanities-oriented scholars who today read his work for the themes of symbolism and cosmology. However, Shirokogoroff also took some trouble to represent his ideas visually (Fig. 5.15). In his work on the Psychomental Complex (Shirokogoroff 1935), a portion of which was pre-published and circulated as a pamphlet (Shirokogoroff 1934), he represented interethnical valience in a series of colourful spirals and representations of cells. In spite of his pretentions to positivistic accuracy, he intended that the diagrams be read intuiutively. The illustrator and future historian Boris Romanovskiĭ, who was interviewed by our colleague Don Tumanisonis in Vancouver, describes the process by which Shirokogoroff guided his pen to produce these puzzling drawings:

Diagrams showing the movements of ethnic groups were prepared by me in this way: Shirokogoroff would carefully explain to me how the ethnic groups intermixed; in which direction and what numbers of one ethnic group would move, and how far. Also, how after contact, the “invaded” group would also re-act and in turn “invade the invaders”. After I prepared the diagram to the best of my ability, I would give it to him for approval. Later, when I began to understand what was required, less and less corrections were needed (Letter to Donald Tumasonis, 20 Apr. 1979).

On the one hand, one is immediately drawn to the military metaphors in this account — but we might discount this as an elaboration of the informant who spent his life in a region that was constantly under invasion — and not necessarily that of Shirokogoroff. Graphically, the images seem to evoke a medical text such as those Shirokogoroff may have encountered as a young man growing up within a community of pharmacists, physicians, and biologists in the then Russian city of I͡Ur’ev (Tartu).

Fig. 5.15 Table IV and VI from The Psychomental Complex of the Tungus overtly illustrating the “parasitizing” of an ethnical unit but graphicaly illustrating the spiral motif (Shirokogoroff 1935: 36)

It is perhaps useful to draw attention to the spirals within the cells — or what we might call the snail-metaphor — an image which haunted him. The spirals structure these diagrams in the same way that Shirokogoroff once confessed that his own line of thought was like that of a snail first protecting itself, and then unravelling. This snail-like unravelling of Shirkogoroff’s etnos thinking seems a good description of his fraught professional life. Clearly in his letter to Kotwicz, he describes withdrawing into his shell because of the pressure of competition with colleagues whom he did not trust. Inflexible, and unwilling to change, he, like a wild Tungus, chose to strike out first for the White-held republic in Vladivostok, and then to the farthest frontier of China, where he could develop his ideas in isolation. Perhaps his cellular model of interethnic pressure, expansion, and diffusion is a model writ-large of the insecurities and professional choices that he himself made, just as his ethnographic description of the freedom-loving Tunguses is a model of the life he yearned to build.

Whatever the origins of his intuitions, his work on defining stable ethnic markers within the contested landscapes of eastern Eurasia never provided him with the firm professional base that he sought. He moved from institution to institution, from the north to the south, in a series of short-term contracts living at the behest first of a nationalizing academy in Canton, and then within the Fu Ren University within Japanese-occupied Beiping. In Canton, he tried and failed to start a physical anthropological field laboratory to support an etnos-defined measurement programme for the nationalist government (Anderson and Arzyutov forthcoming). Within Japanese-controlled Manchukuo, he tried to be an intellectual pillar for a modernizing imperialist administration that wished to govern Manchuria through a network of politically orchestrated ethno-confessional units (Duara 2004; Shimizu 1999). After his death, his widow and lifetime field partner Elizaveta tried and failed to find a publishing house in Japan for his magnum opus — the document that Shirokogoroff described “his big etnos [manuscript]” (Inoue 1991).

Despite these failed and perhaps overly ambitious political overtures, Shirokogoroff’s interest in defining long-term, measurable, and stable ethnic units did make an important impression on the work of his students (see chapter 6). The brightest example of his legacy in ethnic ratification can be seen in the work of Fèi Xiàotōng who became the leading ideologist of ethnic policy under the People’s Republic. For example, one of the leading theorists of Chinese cultural anthropology today reads Shirokogoroff’s influence in Fèi’s concept of “unity in diversity”:

Fei Xiaotong noted […] that credit for his own “unity of diversity” theory should be given to Shirokogoroff, that he himself had “roughly drew an outline or a simple sketch-map of a succession of changes from the point of view of the historical fenhe (separations and mergers) of minzu within China’s borders, but had not gone deeply into Shirokogoroff’s ethnos theory to point out how or why the various ethnic entities had separated or merged during that history of separations and mergers.” After rereading Shirokogoroff’s writings, Fei Xiaotong felt that [he] had failed to grasp the concept of cohesive and centrifugal forces that had always been active among ethnic people. […] There are indeed some connections between Fei Xiaotong’s unity of diversity and Shirokogoroff’s ethnos theories. However, by casually describing unity of diversity as a “simple sketch map,” Fei Xiaotong de-emphasized his own originality. In doing so, he wished to draw support from Shirokogoroff’s ethnos theory to show that sociological elements should be introduced in the overall issue of ethnic studies and to elicit a reconsideration of minzu research by means of a concept of ethnos somewhat akin to ethnological concept of culture (Wang 2010: 62–63).

As discussed in the introduction to this volume, the fascination for identifying and explaining the long-term stability of identity groups is what distinguishes modern Eurasian etnos theory from the north Atlantic discourse of ethnicity. This fascination with ethnographic persistence can be read back into into the phonograph-mediated fieldnotes of the Shirokogoroffs’ first fieldwork. Their Zabaĭkal fieldwork clearly reflects the questions and the training that the couple brought with them from Paris and Petrograd. The surviving unpublished texts and letters reflect the intense interest in material culture and linguistics that remains a hallmark of Russian ethnology.

The texts also reveal an awareness of social disruption, of exploitation — of “disintegration” — but perhaps not yet a mechanism to explain it. The modern element of the texts is the conviction that there was nevertheless some yet-unnamed ethnic consciousness persisting in the region despite the creolization of the language and the adoption of foreign material objects. Had the Shirokogoroffs lived in a different time or place, perhaps their keen interest in material culture, or in Tungus psychology, would have led them to build a theory of enskillment and practice instead of a mathematically-driven account of cultural diffusion. Instead, their concern to identify ethnic persistence in spite of adversity stands as a testimony to the unstable settings and unstable alliances in which they built their own lives.

Appendix 1: Archeography

The archival record of the two Zabaĭkal expeditions is detailed but nonetheless fragmentary. The two expeditions are well described in two difficult-to-access publications (Shirokogorov and Shirokogorova 1914; Shirokogoroff 1923b). The first, a jointly authored field report, is itself mirrored by two manuscript versions in the St Petersburg archives; one for each year. The manuscript version of the 1912 expedition corresponds to the reverse side of folios: SPF ARAN 849-6-80: 41v, 42v, 44v, 45v, 95v-98v although it cannot be read in that order. The manuscript report of the 1913 expedition can be found on the reverse sides of SPF ARAN 849-6-80: 43v, 51v-55v, 74v-87v, 89v, 91v and again cannot be read in that order. This second report is missing at least four folios.

By far the most interesting source for the first expedition (1 June 1912 to 10 August 1912) is Elizaveta’s field diary which documents their one-month stay on the Akima river primarily in the Orochen settlement of Tyksyr (SPF ARAN 849-5-803). It can be linked to a set of 116 glass-plate photographs documenting primarily Tyksyr but also the steppe Tungus communities that they visited earlier (MAĖ collection no. 2002). The 1912 expedition is further documented by a single surviving letter that Sergei wrote to Lev Shternberg from the field (SPF ARAN 282-2-319: 1–2v).

The wax cylinder recordings made by Elizaveta, originally deposited with the Academy of Sciences, now sit in the Archive of the Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House). The institute holds an accession record describing 28 recordings from the 1912 expedition and nineteen recordings from the second expedition (FA IRL RAN Papka 61). A preliminary review of their holdings revealed an uncatalogued collection of 86 wax cylinder recordings associated with the Shirokogoroffs of which a minimum of 25 cylinders can be associated with the 1912 expedition and to some extent matched to Elizaveta’s diary (PD FB 1010-1033, 3299). The jointly published field report documents that 72 photographs and fourteen wax cylinder recordings were made among the nomadic Tunguses and fifty photographs and fifteen wax cylinder recordings in the Orochen settlement of Tyksyr (Shirokogorov and Shirokogorova 1914: 132, 135). The accession record of MAĖ RAN 2003 record seven artefacts accessioned by the museum from Tyksyr. Further, the MAĖ RAN holds a set of skull and hair samples that the couple removed from Orochen graves around Tyksyr (MAĖ 1996, MAĖ 5244).

An important record of the first Zabaĭkal expedition are two unpublished and untitled manuscripts each written immediately after each expedition. They give a deep insight into how the thinking of the two fieldworkers developed year by year. The first is a short, lively written handwritten overview of the geography and the ethnography of eastern Asia with a focus on the nomadic Tungus and Orochens of Zabaĭkal’e. It is filed at SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 72–72v, 100–15v, 119–19v, 121–24v — but the pages cannot be read in that order. The second is an incomplete and untitled typescript which seems to correspond to what the Shirokogoroffs later cited as a ready-to-publish manuscript entitled “Anthropological Notes on the Nomadic Tunguses of Zabaĭkal’skai͡a oblast’, Chita uezd” (1914: 136). The folio references for the text SPF ARAN 849-6-80: 239, 242, 244–56 and follow in that order. The first page is missing. It is possible that the two manuscripts represent one work, with the ethnographic part being the foreword to the anthropometric tables.

The second expedition (14 May 1913 to 17 September 1913) is not as well documented. The best primary source is a set of letters that Sergei regularly sent to Shternberg giving updates on their work (SPF ARAN 282-2-319: 3–9 and SPF ARAN 142-1(1918)-65: 188–92v). There were approximately 100 photographs, 100 drawings, and twenty wax cylinder recordings from the second expedition, but these have not been identified (Shirokogorov and Shirokogorova 1914: 143–44). There are some unattributed wax cylinders in the Institute of Russian Literature, which may refer to the second expedition, and an accession record does exist for this collection (FA IRL RAN: Papka 61: 11–12).

In MAĖ there are accession records for a fur covering (MAĖ collection No 2067) and a large collection of 131 shamanic objects, clothing and tools (MAĖ collection no. 2216) both gathered in Barguzin uezd. Sergei would later write that he had intended to publish a work on the material culture of the Orochen based on these collections, but was prevent from doing so by lack of access to the items (Shirokogoroff 1933). There is also one manuscript dictionary, entitled An Orochen-Russian Dictionary (collected between 1912–1913 — not compiled from the [folklore] texts) which is currently held in the Department of Siberian Ethnography, MAĖ without a classmark. It would seem that the former Head of Department, Chuner Taksami, was endeavouring to publish the dictionary. The manuscript has his name stamped on it.

The results of the second expedition are best represented in a long untitled manuscript on Orochen ethnography. The history of this manuscript is hard to understand. The copy I am quoting from in this chapter is a handwritten — and painstakingly hand-edited — copy, chaotically collated, in SPF ARAN 849-6-806. The manuscript likely corresponds to a substantial work on Orochen ethnography which Shirokogoroff often referred to but cited with wildly different titles:

The Ethnography of the Reindeer Tungus of the Transbaikal (Shirokogoroff 1923b: 517; 1923a: i)

The Ethnography of the Orochen of Transbaikalia (Shirokogoroff 1929: vii)

Ėtnograficheskiĭ ocherk tungusov Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti (D. 1940: 31)

The text is scattered across 189 folios in folder SPF ARAN 849-6-806 between folios 1 and folio 210 in very little order. Their coherence is essentially broken by the texts of the two above-mentioned manuscript field reports, which are printed on the verso sides of the same folios. It would seem that four folios are missing. According to Shirokogoroff there existed a corrected typescript copy of the same, which has not been found, and a third copy which he had with him in emigration (Shirokogoroff 1929: vii). Key paragraphs of this manuscript found their way verbatim (albeit in English translation) into his two main publications on Tunguses (Shirokogoroff 1935, 1929). There are three handwritten dates in the text: 26 January 1914 at the end of chapter 2 (folio 138), 20 March 1914 at the end of chapter 3 (folio 210), and 2 April 1914 at the end of the last unfinished chapter 4 (folio 71).

All three of these unpublished and untitled manuscripts have been untangled, and reprinted with editorial footnotes in Arzi͡utov and Anderson (forthcoming).

Published References

Anderson, D. Dzh [G]. 2017. ‘Zapiski ‘ushedsheĭ v sebi͡a ulitki’: Zabaĭkal’skie ėkspedit͡sii S. M. Shirokogorova i formirovanie osnov ėtnos-myshlenii͡a’, Ėtnograficheskoe obozrenie 5: 104–22.

Anderson, D. G. 1991. ‘Turning Hunters into Herders: A Critical Examination of Soviet Development Policy among the Evenki of Southeastern Siberia’, Arctic 44 (1): 12–22, https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic1513.

―. 2006. ‘Dwellings, Storage and Summer Site Structure among Siberian Orochen Evenkis: Hunter‐Gatherer Vernacular Architecture under Post‐Socialist Conditions’, Norwegian Archaeological Review 39 (1): 1–26, https://doi.org/10.1080/00293650600703894.

―. and D. Arzyutov. Forthcoming. ‘The Etnos Archipelago: Sergeĭ M. Shirokogoroff and the Life History of a Controversial Anthropological Concept’, Current Anthropology.

Arzi͡utov, D. V. and D. G. Anderson. Forthcoming. Puteshestvie cherez man’chzhurskiĭ les k antropologicheskim kont͡sept͡sii͡am: ėtnoistorii͡a Sergei͡a i Elizavety Shirokogorovykh (Moscow: Indrik).

Bogoraz, V. G. 1931. Tungusskiĭ sbornik. vyp 1 (Leningrad: Izd-vo AN SSSR).

Castren, M. A. 1856. Grundzüge einen Tungusichen Sprachlehre nebst kurzem worterverzeichnis (St Peterburg: Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften).

Czaplicka, M. A. 1914. Aboriginal Siberia: A Study in Social Anthropology (Oxford: Clarendon).

D. 1940. ‘Pami͡ati russkogo uchenogo’, Kitaĭskiĭ blagovestnik Nov.: 33–39.

Duara, P. 2004. Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern (Oxford: Rowman).

Fèi Xiàotōng. 1994. ‘Cóng shǐ lù guó lǎoshī xué tǐzhí rénlèi xué’, Běijīng dàxué xuébào: Zhéxué shèhuì kēxué bǎn 5: 13–22.

Guldin, G. E. 1994. The Saga of Anthropology in China: From Malinowski to Moscow to Mao (London: Sharpe).

Inoue, K. 1991. ‘Introductory Notes to Sergei Shirkogorofff’s Tungus Literary Language’, Asian Folklore Studies 50: 35–9.

Kisli͡akov, V. N. 2013. ‘Russkiĭ Komitet dli͡a izuchenii͡a Sredneĭ i Vostochnoĭ Azii (RKSVA) i kollekt͡sii po Vostochnoĭ Azii MAĖ RAN’, in Ki͡unerovskiĭ sbornik: materialy vostochnoaziatskikh i i͡ugo-vostochnoaziatskikh issledovaniĭ: ėtnografii͡a, fol’klor, iskusstvo, istorii͡a, arkheologii͡a, muzeevedenie, 2011–2012, ed. by I͡U. K. Chistov and M. A. Rubt͡sova (St Peterburg: MAĖ RAN), 114–31.

Liú Xiǎoyún. 2007. ‘Shǐ lù guó duì zhōngguó zǎoqí rénlèi xué de yǐngxiǎng’, Zhōngnán mínzú dàxué xuébào: Rénwén shèhuì kēxué bǎn 27 (3): 10–14.

Maĭnov, I. I. 1901. ‘Dva tipa tungusov’, Russkiĭ antropologicheskiĭ zhurnal 6 2: 1–13.

Ol’denburg, S. F. 1903. ‘Russkiĭ komitet dli͡a izuchenii͡a Sredneĭ i Vostochnoĭ Azii’, Zhurnal Ministerstva narodnogo prosveshchenii͡a 9: 44–47.

Shimizu, A. 1999. ‘Colonialism and the Development of Modern Anthropology in Japan’, in Anthropology and Colonialism in Asia and Oceania, ed. by J. van Bremen and A. Shimizu (Richmond: Curzon), 115–71.

Shirokogoroff, S. M. 1923a. Anthropology of Northern China (Shanghai: Commercial Press).

―. 1923b. ‘Ethnological investigations in Siberia, Mongolia, and Northern China Part 2’, The China Journal of Science and Arts (Shanghai) 1 (6): 611–21.

―. 1924a. Ethnical Unit and Milieu: A Summary of the Ethnos (Shanghai: E. Evans).

―. 1924b. Social Organization of the Manchus: A Study of Manchu Clan Organization (Shanghai: Commercial Press).

―. 1925. Anthropology of Eastern China and Kwangtung Province (Shanghai: Commercial Press).

―. 1926. ‘Northern Tungus Migrations in the Far East (Goldi and their Ethnical Affinities)’, Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 57: 123–83.

―. 1929. Social Organization of the Northern Tungus (Shanghai: Commercial Press).

―. 1930. ‘Ethnological and Linguistic Aspects of the Ural-Altaic Hypothesis’, Qinghua Xuebao 6 (3): 199–396.

―. 1931. Ethnological and Linguistic Aspects of the Ural-Altaic Hypothesis (Peiping: Commercial Press).

―. 1932. Letter to Professor Dr D. H. Kulp, 30 July 1932 (Peiping: [no. pub.]).

―. 1933. Social Organization of the Northern Tungus (Shanghai: Commercial Press).

―. 1934. Ethnos: An Outline of Theory (Peiping: [Catholic University Press] Qinghua University).

―. 1935. The Psychomental Complex of the Tungus (London: Kegan Paul).

―. 1944. A Tungus Dictionary: Tungus-Russian and Russian-Tungus Photogravured from the Manuscripts (Tokyo: Minzokugaru Kyokai).

―. 1953. A Tungus Dictionary: Tungus-Russian and Russian-Tungus, Photogravured from the Manuscripts (Tokyo: Minzokugaku Kyōkai).

―. 1970. Ethnological and Linguistical Aspects of the Ural-Altaic Hypothesis (Oosterhout: Anthropological Publications).

Shirokogorov, S. M. 1919. ‘O metodakh razrabotki antropologicheskikh materialov’, Uchenye zapiski istoriko-filogicheskogo fakul’teta v Vladivostoke 1 (2): 3–20.

―. 1922. Mesto ėtnografii sredi nauk i klassifikat͡sii͡a ėtnosov (Vladivostok: izd “Svobodnai͡a Rossii͡a”).

―. 1923. Ėtnos — issledovanie osnovnykh print͡sipov izmenenii͡a ėtnicheskikh i ėtnograficheskikh i͡avleniĭ (Shanghai: Sibpress).

―. and E. N. Shirokogorova. 1914. ‘Otchёt o poezdkakh k tungusam i orochonam Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti v 1912 i 1913 gg.’, Izvestii͡a Russkogo komiteta dli͡a izuchenii͡a Sredneĭ i Vostochnoĭ Azii 3: 129–46.

Shirokogorova, E. N. 1919. ‘Severo-Zapadnai͡a Man’chzhurii͡a (geograficheskiĭ ocherk po dannym marshrutnykh nabli͡udeniĭ)’, Uchenye zapiski istoriko-filologicheskogo fakul’teta v Vladivostoke 1: 109–46.

Wang Mingming. 2010. ‘The Intermediate Circle’, Chinese Sociology & Anthropology 42 (4): 62–77, https://doi.org/10.2753/CSA0009-4625420404.

Archival References

BN PAU i PAN: Scientific Library of the Polish Academy of Skills and the Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków

BPANvK 4600 t. 7 folio 54–57. Pis’mo S. M. Shirokogorova V. L. Kotvichu, 6 Feb. 1933.

FA IRL RAN: The Phonograph Archive of the Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House) of Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

FA IRL RAN PD FB 1010-1033, 3299. Fonograficheskie valiki Sergei͡a i Elizavety Shirokogorovykh. Zabaĭkal’e, Chitinskai͡a oblast’, 1912.

FA IRL RAN PD FB 3255-3298. Fonograficheskie valiki Sergei͡a i Elizavety Shirokogorovykh. Manchuria, Heilongzhang region, 1915–1917.

FA IRL RAN PD FB 3590-3606 Fonograficheskie valiki Sergei͡a i Elizavety Shirokogorovykh. Shamanskie pesni. [No date].

FA IRL RAN: Papka 61: 6–10v. Ruskopisnyĭ Fond. Opis’ Fn2. Ot S. M. Shirokogorova i E. N. Shirokogorovoĭ. Sibir’. Zabaĭkal’skai͡a oblast’. Chitinski uezd. Kochevye tungusy (Khamnagan), Buri͡aty, Orocheny po komandirovke 1912 goda (Maĭ-Senti͡abr’), 30 Nov. 1913, 28 items.

FA IRL RAN: Papka 61: 11–12. Ruskopisnyĭ Fond. Opis’ Fn4. Ot S. M. Shirokogorova i E. N. Shirokogorovoĭ. Sibir’. Zabaĭkal’skai͡a oblast’. Nerchinskiĭ i Barguzinskiĭ uezd. Orocheny po komandirovke 1913 goda (Maĭ-Senti͡abr’), 30 Mar. 1915, 19 items.

EVR: Elena V. Robinson’s Personal Archive, St Petersburg

Photographic collection

MAĖ: [Numbered Collections of] Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

MAĖ 2002. Stekli͡annye negativy Sergei͡a i Elizavety Shirokogorovykh, Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti, Chitinskogo uezda Okti͡abr’ 1912, 179 х 129”, glass plates. 116 plates.

MAĖ 2003. Predmety obihoda Tyksyr Zi͡ul’zinskoĭ volosti, Chitinskogo uezda Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti 1912 Okti͡abr’, 13 items.

MAĖ 1996. Cherepa Orochon Chitinskokogo uezda Zi͡ulzinskoĭ volosti, 1913, 3 items.

MAĖ 5244. Obrazt͡sy volos muzhchiny. Orocheny. Pogrebenie v verkh. r. Akimy (pritok Nerchi) v Zi͡ul’zinskoĭ volosti Chitinskogo uezda 1912 [iz cherepa 1996-2].

MAĖ 2067. Mekhovoĭ kover. Orocheny Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti Barguzinskogo uezda, 22 Nov. 1913, 1 item.

MAĖ 2216. Veshchi kul’ta, odezhda, orudii͡a. Orocheny Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti Barguzinskogo uezda, 1913, 131 items.

SPF ARAN: St Petersburg Filial of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences

SPF ARAN 4-4-672. Delo kant͡seli͡arii pravlenii͡a Imperatorskoĭ Akademii Nauk ob opredelenii S. M. Shirokogorova na gosudarstvennui͡u sluzhbu na dolzhnost’ mladshego antropologa Muzei͡a Antropologii i Ėtnografii Ak. Nauk 1917.

SPF ARAN 142-1(1918)-65: 188–92v. Pis’mo S. M. Shirogorova L. I͡A. Shternbergu, 25 May 1913.

SPF ARAN 148-1-22: 68. Veshchi prinadlezhashchie Russkomu Komitetu, vzi͡atye v ėkspedii.

SPF ARAN 282-2-319: 1–2v. Pis’mo S. M. Shirogorova L. I͡A. Shternbergu, 11 Jun. 1912.

SPF ARAN 282-2-319: 3–4v. Pis’mo S. M. Shirogorova L. I͡A. Shternbergu, 12 Jun. 1913

SPF ARAN 282-2-319: 5–7v. Pis’mo S. M. Shirogorova L. I͡A. Shternbergu, 4 Jul. 1913.

SPF ARAN 282-2-319: 8–9. Pis’mo S. M. Shirogorova L. I͡A. Shternbergu, 31 Jul. 1913

SPF ARAN 849-5-803: 1–37v. Shirokogorova, Elizaveta N. Polevoĭ dnevnik, 1912.

SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 41v, 42v, 44v, 45v, 95v–98v. Otchёt o poezdke k tungusam i orochenam Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti S. M. i E. N. Shirokogorovykh v 1912 g.

SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 72–72v, 100–15v, 119–19v, 121–24v. Shirokogorov, Sergeĭ M. [vmeste s E. N. Shirokogorovoĭ?]. Untitled Manuscript [Ėtnograficheskiĭ ocherk o tungusakh i orochenakh, 1912–1913].

SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 239, 242, 244–56. Shirokogorov, Sergeĭ M. [vmeste s E. N. Shirokogorovoĭ?]. Untitled Typescript [Kochevye tungusy. Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti. Chitinskogo uezda. Antropologicheskiĭ ocherk, 1912–1913].

SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 43v, 51v–55v, 74v–87v, 89v–91v, 93v–94v, 99v. Otchёt o poezdke k orochenam Zabaĭkal’skoĭ oblasti S. M. i E. N. Shirokogorovykh v 1913 g.

SPF ARAN 849-6-806: 1–45, 47–71, 73–91, 93–99, 126, 129–38, 140, 142–50, 151–86, 206–38 Shirokogorov, Sergeĭ M. [vmeste s E. N. Shirokogorovoĭ?] [Ėtnografii͡a Orochenov Zabaĭkal’i͡a 1914].

TsGIA SPb: Central State Historical Archive of St Petersburg

TsGIA SPb 14-3-59098. Delo Sergei͡a Mikhaĭlovicha Shirokogorova [41 folios], 1911–1914.


1 In my own field research in the same region in 1989 and 2004 (Anderson 1991; 2006) I encountered the same hearsay terminology in the village of Kyker. It was common to describe reindeer herders carrying the official nationality “Evenki” as Orochens. Individuals of mixed Orochen-Russian descent, who would be registered as Russians, would describe themselves as Tunguses. This local way of speaking shocked some of my Russian colleagues, as it did Shirokogoroff almost eighty years earlier. They thought our hosts were confused and tried to convine them that they were Evenkis.

2 According to their published report, the vocabulary lists were prepared for publication immediately after the fieldwork but were never published. A recently discovered manuscript dictionary in AMAĖ, dated 1912–1913 but without a classmark (see Appendix), likely corresponds to this document. It is likely that parts of this manuscipt were published by Elizaveta after Sergei’s death in a rare Japanese edition (Shirokogoroff 1953, 1944).