The Social Org a n i z a t i o n of the Gilyak

Lev Shternberg, Bruce Grant
" B ruce Grant has brought to completion an English edition of a monument of Russian e t h n o gra p hy. His Afterword is graphic and heartbreaking, and the interv i ew s, apart from the info rmation they contain, present moving impressions of the vivacity of his interl o c u-t o r s. I am glad that these too are recorded for posteri t y." R o d n ey Needham In 1905, the eminent dean of American anthropology, Franz Boas, commissioned a m o n o graph on the lives of Sakhalin Island peoples from
more » ... sland peoples from the young Russian " ex i l e e t h n o gra p h e r," L ev Shtern b e r g .S h t e rn b e r g 's The Social Organization of the Gilya k wa s to be the last ethnogra p hy of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, ex p l o ring the ori g i n s of Amerindian peoples along both the Russian and American north Pacific ri m s. The unpublished English version of this ethnographic masterwo rk, published twice in Russian in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, languished for decades in the archives of the American Museum of Natural History and was thus lost to most English readers. Hailed by Claude Lévi-Strauss as "a work of exceptional value and insight," The Social Organization of the Gilyak offers a rare portrait of a little documented part of the world and the belief systems of a people prior to the dramatic cultural re-education programs introduced under the Soviets. A striking illustration of the fortunes of political ideology, the book demonstrates how early Marxist kinship studies took a Pacific people and made them a hallmark of primitive communist life in the Russian imperial imagination.