Friday, April 19, 2019

Specialist on Northern Peoples Elected Director of Moscow Institute of Ethnology

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 19 – By a secret vote at the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology yesterday, Dmitry Funk, a specialist on the numerically small peoples of the North, was elected the institute’s director, defeating his two opponents with 74 votes, against 66 for Aleksandr Chernykh and 12 for Natalya Pushkaryov” (

            He replaces Marina Martynov, specialist on ethnicity in the United States, who had been elected director in 2015 but whose contract was not renewed last year because of age and despite appeals to the Academy of Sciences and Vladimir Putin that she be allowed to serve until she was 70 (

            This election is important because recent directors of the Institute have played a key role in official thinking and actions about Soviet and Russian nationality policy. Yulian Bromley, director from 1966 to 1989, played a major role in transforming the way nationality issues were discussed not only by experts but by officials with his promotion of the concept of “ethnos.”

            And his successor, Valery Tishkov, not only became a minister for nationalities affairs under Boris Yeltsin but also has been a senior advisor on nationality issues to Vladimir Putin where he has promoted the controversial idea of creating a non-ethnic Russian national identity and backed Putin’s Russianizing policies.

            It is unclear whether the new director, who now heads the ethnology section at Moscow State University, will play a similar role. His pre-election statements do not provide a real clue as like his competitors he was “for everything good and against everything bad,” Nazaccent’s Polina Nikolayeva says (

            She spoke with Tishkov, currently the director of studies at the institute and the man who organized the election, before the vote about what he hopes for in a new director is concerned. Tishkov said that “it is important that the new director be young and have the potential to serve as director for at least two terms.” Only that will allow for completion of major projects.

            The academician added that it would be good if the new director was or would soon be a member of the Academy of Sciences because of the frequently complicated situation the Institute finds itself both as part of the Academy and subordinate to the ministry for education and science.

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