25 February 2004

Early Russian Ethnographer in New Guinea

AnthroBase contains the following profile of an ethnographer who beat Malinowski to New Guinea by several decades.

Miklukho-Maklai, Nikolai Nikolaevich (1846-1888)

Russian anthropologist and explorer, acknowledged as the father of Russian ethnography. In 1871-72, Miklukho-Maklai did 15 months of continuous fieldwork on the Northern coast of New Guinea [in present-day Madang Province], where he pioneered methods that would only gain wide acceptance 40-50 years later, after Malinowski's fieldwork. Throughout his life, Miklukho-Maklai identified strongly with the people he studied, and he several times spoke out in their defence against colonialist powers. He laid the groundwork of the rich tradition of 19th century Russian ethnography, which continued well into Soviet times--until it was destroyed in Stalin's purges in the 1930s-50s.

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