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Uuno Taavi Sirelius and His “Ethnographic Faith”

[Uuno Taavi Sirelius i ego “etnograficheskaia vera”]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004875-2

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 19.05.2018

Accepted: 14.08.2018

About author(s)

Aleksei Ye. Zagrebin | https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9381-9581 | zagreb72@izh.com | Udmurt Institute of History, Language and Literature of Udmurt Federal Research Center UrO RAS (4 Lomonosov St., Izhevsk, 426004, Russia)


Finno-Ugric peoples, history of ethnography, ethnographic expeditions, museum, exhibition, Department of Finno-Ugric Ethnography


The article examines the key issues in the history of studying Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia that were raised owing to the activities of Uuno Taavi Sirelius (1872–1929), the founding chair of the Department of Finno-Ugric Ethnography at the University of Helsinki. I discuss the part that the scholar played in the shaping of an ethnically recognizable image of Finno-Ugric peoples in academic research and discourses of education, literature, and politics. Special attention is paid to his search for novel theoretical and methodological principles that could be put into effective practice in museum work and ethnographic expeditions in the broader intellectual context of European scholarship around the turn of the 19th–20th centuries. I argue that Sirelius played an important role in training the first generation of professional ethnographers of Finno-Ugric origin and explore the various facets of his academic work from editorial and exhibition projects to field research, as well as trace the reception of his contributions in the area of Finno-Ugric studies.


Zagrebin, A.Ye. 2019. Uuno Taavi Sirelius i ego “etnograficheskaia vera” [Uuno Taavi Sirelius and His “Ethnographic Faith”]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 2: 150-166. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004875-2

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