The Social Life of Ethnic Categories Three cases of indigeneity, Russia and anthropological knowledge production

University dissertation from Oslo : Reprosentralen, University of Oslo

Abstract: Examining three cases on indigeneity, Russia and anthropological knowledge production, this thesis investigates indigeneity as a form of ethnic classification. The first case is about the so-called census-war in the Republic of Altai, and who, thus, is allowed to be indigenous. The second is about how the construction of ´the north´, the very epitome of Russian indigeneity, becomes attached to one particular village and only parts of its inhabitants, by way of association with Scandinavian Saami, excluding other potentially ´northern´ people. The third case is about how ethnic classifications, on part of the Vega expedition in 1878, collecting ethnographic objects and human skulls along the Siberian coast, have been reproduced over time at Swedish institutions, and now form the basis of repatriation of human remains at the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm, reproducing a colonial mindset. I all three cases global indigeneity, Soviet and post-Soviet Russian variants, clash with complex local situations, with the consequence that many local actors are excluded from indigeneity. It turns out that anthropology plays a crucial role in these processes of inclusion and exclusion.