Reviews

An illustrious representative of the Leningrad school of ethnography, Nikolai A. Kisliakov (1901-73) is evoked in this well-informed—though excessively apologetic—article, based partly on unpublished archive documents, from his early activity as an official in charge of elementary education in the Qarategin Valley, his wedding there in 1932 with the renowned linguist Anna Z. Rozenfel’d, to his four-decade long engagement with the Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology of the Academy of Sciences of Russia in St. Petersburg, after the viva of his candidate dissertation on the “Traces of Primitive Communism among the Mountain Tajiks of Higher Wakhiya”.  The narrative sheds light on Kisliakov’s stay in the Soviet Embassy in Tehran from 1943 to 1945, and on his creation of a strong team of specialists of Central Asia in the Leningrad Section of the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Russia.  The depiction of his personal research work focuses on his observations and reflections on survivals of ‘clan structures’ in Central Asia, leading to his monograph on “Family and Marriage among the Tajiks.”  This theme was further developed by him in researches on the survivals of matriarchate in the wedding rituals of Central Asian peoples, leading to later works about family relations and heritage transmission according to Islamic and customary rights.  Another key contribution of Kisliakov’s to the anthropology of Central Asian society is made by the collective volume edited by him in 1954 on the “Culture and Everyday Life of the Tajik Kolkhoz Peasantry,” a unique series of studies on the transformation of Central Asian rural communities in the roaring decades following collectivisation.  Kisliakov’s pioneering contribution to the historical anthropology of Central Asia is dealt with through a rapid analysis of his monograph on feudal and patriarchal relations among the sedentary rural population of the Emirate of Bukhara (till today mistakenly labelled “khanate” by a number of ethnographers) in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century (1962).  As to Kisliakov’s work as a specialist of Persian language and literature, it is evoked through his commented Russian translation of Sadegh Hedayat’s Neyrangestan (1958).  The last pages of the article evoke Kisliakov’s contribution to the popularisation of ethnographical research on Central Asia, to his privileged relations with Tajikistan’s academic circles, and to his personal virtues as they are testified by a number of witnesses.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-1.2.B-63