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Espagne M. L’Allemagne des Lumières et la science de la Sibérie (Enlightenment Germany and the Invention of Siberia). Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 3, pp. 232–253. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-3-232-253

Author: Michel Espagne
Information about the author:

Michel Espagne, Professor, Director of the Labex TransferS (ENS-CNRS) and of the UMR “Pays germaniques-Transferts culturels/Archives Husserl” (UMR 8547), 45 rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris, France.
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Received: November 28, 2017
Published: September 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №3
Department: Folklore Studies
Pages: 232-253

UDK: 392+82
BBK: 70(4Гем=253)51+ 80(4Гем=253)51
Keywords: Siberia, Altai, anthropology, shamanism, linguistics, history of the humanities, Russian Germans


During the period of German Enlightenment, German scholars at service in the Russian state began scientific exploration of Siberia and organized the “Great northern expedition” (1733–1743) which was later completed by other researchers. Johann Georg Gmelin, Carl Heinrich Merck, Georg Wilhelm Steller, Gerhard Friedrich Müller, and Peter Simon Pallas among others focused on the religious life, languages and everyday life of the Siberian ethnic groups they encountered. Their accounts remained for a long time unpublished as they were a “formal” property of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Not only are they a valuable contribution to the invention of Russian identity conceived as part of the Eurasian space, they also form the basis of new sciences such anthropology and linguistics resulting from the contact between German universities and the widely unexplored Siberian world.


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