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Soviet Ethnography

M. Faizulloev, archaeological-ethnographic expedition with the Moscow State University (MGU), Danghara district, 1973

Ethnos theory of the 1970s and 1980s at the Soviet periphery

The work of the ethnographer was not only to document national or Soviet customs. Instead, the 1980s were marked by a search for more and more detailed customs and traditions of “ethnic groups”. In the diaries of Faizulloev we find detailed descriptions of small groups each with an own term and identity. Difference is established not only on linguistic base but more importantly on marriage practices and more generally life cycle rituals. Such groups were identified based on Bromlei’s concept of intermarriage and ethnicity, not only in Central Asia but throughout the Soviet Union. The reports appearing in the faculty’s publication “Institut Etnologii i Antropologii RAN SSSR. Issledovaniya po prikladnoi i neotlozhnoi etnologii” from the 1980s and 90s is proof of this approach. The journal contains – almost exclusively – reports on ethnic groups and interethnic relationships. Hereby, ethnic specificities are turned into the main problem for increasing tensions during perestroika and immediately following independence.

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