Home    Number 3, 2018

Yulia Averkieva and Franz Boas: Mutual Affection and Ideological Disagreements

[Yuliia Averkieva i Frants Boas: vzaimnaia simpatiia i ideologicheskie raznoglasiia]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7868/S0869541518030065

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 03.02.2017

Accepted: 21.11.2017

About author(s)

Sergei Kan | http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8565-0528 | sergei.a.kan@dartmouth.edu | Dartmouth College (6047 Silsby Hall, Hanover, NH 03755, USA)


history of Soviet anthropology, history of American anthropology, Boas, Averkieva


Using the correspondence between Franz Boas and his Soviet graduate student Yulia Averkieva, this paper discusses both their warm personal relationship and their different views on the political situation in Soviet Russia in the 1930s and its impact on academic research. Boas’ letters to his Russian graduate student as well as excerpts from his correspondence with Russian and American colleagues, interviews, and publications are used to demonstrate that while he remained sympathetic to socialism in general and to the lofty goals of the Soviet state in particular even in the 1930s, he was well aware of the show trials and the lack of freedom in the USSR as well as an increasing ideological pressure on scholars working in the social sciences, including anthropology. A loyal supporter of the Soviet regime and a Young Communist League member, Averkieva strongly disagreed with the father of American anthropology, while always remaining deeply grateful to him for mentoring her in New York and taking her to the field in 1930. She retained those sentiments for the rest of her life, even while criticizing Boas’ theoretical views from an orthodox Marxist perspective in several of her publications in the 1950–70s.


Kan, S.A. 2018. Yulia Averkieva and Franz Boas: Mutual Affection and Ideological Disagreements [Yuliia Averkieva i Frants Boas: vzaimnaia simpatiia i ideologicheskie raznoglasiia]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 70-79. https://doi.org/10.7868/S0869541518030065

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