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The department of Ethnography and Museum Studies of Omsk State University was established in 1985. It was the third department of ethnography in Russian universities (after widely known Moscow and Leningrad universities) and the fifth in the whole Soviet Union. The very fact of a specialized department foundation in a provincial university is the proof of the successful development of ethnography in Omsk. The founder of the department is Professor, Doktor Nauk in History, Nikolai Tomilov. He has been a leader of our team up to the present.

The first ethnographical research in Omsk was run in the middle of the XIX century by a famous Russian scientist Chokan Valikhanov who could be called a “loner” scientist. He wasn’t connected with any academic ethnographic community, as they didn’t exist in those times.  Omsk didn’t use to have any museums or a university. It wasn’t up to 1877 that Omsk got a academic society which dealt with the arrangement of ethnographic trips – the West-Siberian Branch of the Russian Geographical Society and the affiliated museum opened in 1878.

Omsk State University was founded in 1974 and in the same year the entry to the History Department of the Humanities Faculty was announced. N.A. Tomilov, in those days a senior lecturer and a Kandidat Nauk in History, has been working at the university since its foundation. Not only he conducted lectures in ethnography, but also supervised his students’ research in this area. The first ethnographic trip of Omsk State university was managed by N.A. Tomilov and his assistant V.B. Bogomolov in the same year 1974. The exhibits collected went to the newly established museum of Ethnography and Archeology of OmSU. As the university was developing, its structure was becoming more complex.  By 1976 the Faculty of History, which included the Department of Universal History, was established. Up to 1985 N.A. Tomilov had been working and conducting ethnographic research there.

In 1985 a specialized Department of Ethnography, Historiography and Sources Studies of the History of the USSR was founded.  Since the very beginning, Prof. N.A. Tomilov was its head. In 1994 the Department of Modern Native History and Historiography headed by Prof.V.P. Korzoun spinned off, and our department got its modern name - the Department of Ethnography and Museum Studies.

The Department of Ethnography and Museum Studies is the only one in Western Siberia which accepts and instructs students in two fields: the ethnography of the peoples of the world and historical museum studies. The department also trains post-graduate and PhD students from Omsk and other Siberian cities in the fields of ethnography, ethnology and anthropology. Our staff teach in and research the fields of ethnography, ethnology, culture and museum studies.

We have been developing a new branch of science which is not to be found in other Russian higher education institutions, training professionals in ethnology – ethnoarcheology. A group of ethnographers and archeologists led by N.A. Tomilov elaborates the problems of ethnoarcheology as a branch of science, arranges the all-year-round ongoing inter-university seminar for students and post-graduate students and runs the annual academic seminar “Integration of Archeological and Ethnographical Research”. The curriculum of the department includes a course of lectures in ethnoarcheology; post-graduates are being trained in ethnoarcheology as well. 

The tradition of training professionals in ethnography in Omsk during more than 30 years has resulted in creating a mighty ethnographic center. It includes, apart from the Department of Ethnography, Omsk Affiliate of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science    and Siberian Branch of the Russian Institute of Culture Studies. Professional ethnographers work in Omsk museums - Omsk State Museum of History and Native History and Omsk Oblast  Museum of Fine Arts.

In  1996 as a result of the activity of the staff of the Department of Ethnography and Museum studies it became possible to open the Research Laboratory of Ethnography and History of the Siberian Germans ( headed by T.B. Smirnova, associate professor). The primary directions of the laboratory’s research are the study of the Siberian Germans’ traditional culture, the study of the modern state of the language, culture, ethnic self-perception and international relationships of the Siberian Germans, the forming of historical-ethnographical museum collections. It was the first laboratory opened in the department. Now, the research projects of the staff are implemented in three laboratories: the Laboratory of Siberian Peoples’ Culture Monitoring (headed by A.G. Seleznov, associate professor), the Laboratory of History and Ethnography of the Siberian Russians (headed by prof. A.V. Remnev, the Department of Pre-revolutionary Native History, deputy head – M.L. Berezhnova, associate professor, the Department of Ethnography and Museum Studies), the Laboratory of Ethnoarcheology (headed by prof. N.A. Tomilov).

The results of research are reflected in the department’s publications. All in all, in 2008 the team in cooperation with the staff of research institutes published more than 250 monographs, collections of articles and study aids. The research team of the department has been taking part in the following series:

«The Culture of the World’s Peoples in the Collections of Russian Museums». This series includes scientific descriptions of the ethnographic collections’ exhibits in Russian museums. The series has been published since 1986. All in all, 12 volumes have been published.

«Culture of the Russian Peoples». The basic aim of this series is to release the new fundamental and applied works on material, spiritual and standards culture of Russian peoples and national groups. The series has been published since 1995. All in all, 7 volumes have been published.

«Ethnographo-Archeological Complexes: the Problems of Culture and Society». This series includes the works written across the sections of archeology and ethnography and devoted to ethnical and sociocultural history of the Middle Ages and the New Age. The series has been published since 1996. All in all, 9 volumes have been published.

Since 1999 the department has been taking part in editing and publishing the journal “Culturological Studies of Siberia”, which is run by OmSU,  Omsk Affiliate of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science  and Siberian Branch of the Russian Institute of Culture Studies.

The staff of the department runs a whole range of conferences. Within the years of its existence, the department has arranged more than 120 international, All –Soviet Union, All – Russian and regional conferences. Some of them have become traditional and are held within a fixed period of time:

The All-Russian academic conference «The Ethnic History of the Turkic Peoples of Siberia and the Adjoining Territories». It is devoted to the problems of Turkic Studies. Was held in 1984, 1992 and 1998.

The All-Russian scientific conference «The Russian Question: History and Modernity». This is a complex conference, devoted to the discussion of the problems of history, philosophy and culture of the Russians. Was held in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2005 and 2007.

The international academic and research conference «The Siberian Germans: History and Culture». Was held in 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002 and 2006.

The international academic seminar «The Integration of Archeological and Ethnographical Research». The seminar aims at elaborating new methodological and methodical approaches to the problem of reconstruction and research of the early stages of the human history, culture and society through the development of complex, complimentary and coordinated methods and techniques of archeology, ethnography and allied sciences. The seminar has been held annually since 1993. It has worked not only in Omsk, but also in other Russian cities – Vladivostok, Moscow, Nalchik, Novosibirsk, St.Petersburg, Ufa, Khanty – Mansiysk, Krasnoyarsk, and also in Almaty, Kazakhstan and Odessa, Ukraine. The materials of the seminar have been published since 1995 in the collections of academic works «The Integration of Archeological and Ethnographical Research». 13 collections have been published so far.

Since 1993 Omsk has been hosting the on-going interdepartmental academic seminar «Ethnographo-Archeological Complexes of the Peoples of Western Siberia». It is run by Omsk State University (the Department of Primitive History and the Department of Ethnography and Museum Studies), Omsk Branch of United Institute of History, Philology and Philosophy (Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Science) and the Siberian Branch of the Russian Institute of Culture Studies. There have been more than 100 meetings of this theoretical- methodological seminar. It has been supervised by N.A. Tomilov, M.A. Koroussenko and S.S. Tikhonov. All the members of the staff, post-graduates and students take part in it. Apart from the members of the Laboratory of Ethnography (M.L. Berezhnova, S.N. Koroussenko, A.V. Matveyev, S.F. and L.V Tataurovs, K.N. and M.N Tikhomirovs, S.S. Tikhonov and N.A. Tomilov) among the speakers of the seminar there have been the academician of Russian Academy of Science V.I. Molodin (Novosibirsk), the correspondent member of Russian Academy of Science  V.A. Tishkov and Prof. V.A. Shirelman (Moscow).

In  2000 the department participated in a competition and became a member of the project of the Open Society Institute «The development of Education in Russia» . Some of the activities – publication of monographs and collections – remained unchanged, but there appeared new concerns.

First, the educational activity of the staff increased. During the years of the project implementation (2001-2003) 8 textbooks and 14 syllabuses were published. With the help of Open Society Institute some new equipment was acquired, which allowed using video materials and ICT for teaching in a much wider context. It was the «epoch of video» at lectures and seminars. With the help of the supervisor and partner at the Open Society Institute project – the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Russian Academy of Science, Moscow) the video library was built up. M.A. and S.N. Koroussenko took part in making study films «Some Methods of Field Ethnography» and «The Trip to Big Turaly».

It’s worth noticing that in early 2000s the number of specializing students increased and they are much more numerous than 5-10 years ago.  All in all, 300 students of OmSU have been trained in ethnography during the years of its existence. Apart from OmSU staff, ethnography students of different periods have been lectured by prominent Soviet and Russian scientists – academician A.P.Okladnikov, correspondent members of the  Russian Academy of Science  S. А. Aroutiunov (Moscow) and А.V. Golovnev (Ekaterinburg), professors P.F. Eets (Leningrad), V.М. Koulemzin (Tomsk), G.Е. Markov, P.I. Pouchkov, Y.V. Chesnov (Moscow) and others.
Second, the academic work of students and post-graduates has become more active. The department was the principal organizer of the All-Russian Academic Conference of Young Scientists “The Culture Studies of Traditional Communities”, held in 2002 in Omsk. 45 participants arrived from 7 cities of Russia (Moscow, St.Petersburg, Kazan, Barnaul). In 2007 г. this conference was held for the second time.

In 2002 the monograph “The Russians of the Omsk Irtysh Region in XVIII–XX centuries” was published. The authors of this monograph are young researchers А.А. Novoselova (Krikh), L.B. Gerassimova (Gegelman), О.N. Zhidik, I.S. Breus and D.А. Reisvikh. At the moment of release they were graduates of the History Department of OmSU and the monograph was based on their diploma compositions. The book was published with the support from the Open Society Institute.
The department actively trains post-graduates. Many of the former post-graduate students of OmSU work in different cities of Western Siberia– Tuimen, Barnaul, Krasnoyarsk, Moscow and abroad, especially in Kazakhstan. All in all, 38 theses were defended in the fields of ethnography, ethnology and anthropology. Since 2004 there is a doctorate in ethnology. Academician V.I. Molodin  and professors A.V. Remnev and N.A. Tomilov act as scientific advisors.
Third, the department now has its own site, which you, our respectable visitor, is looking through at the moment!

One of our most prominent achievements is the participation in the organization of the Vth Congress of Russian Ethnographers and Antropologists, which took place on June 9-12, 2003 in Omsk.  The choice of Omsk for running the Congress is very unexpected. Except for the very first Congress in Ryazan in 1995, all the other forums took place in the capital and federal centers (Moscow, Nalchik, Ufa, St.Petersburg, Saransk). 320 participants from 55 cities of Russia and also Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Germany, Great Britain, the USA, Norway, Finland, France took part in the Congress. At plenaries and 49 SIGs 300 reports were made.

The Department of Ethnography and Museum Studies has extensive connections with museums, academic and study centers in our country and abroad. Among its most important partners one can name the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science and its  Omsk Affiliate, the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of Russian Academy of Science, the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography named after Peter the Great (“The Cabinet of Curiosities”).

Since 2004 a new specialty - “Social Anthropology” was founded, since 2007 there has been a Master’s degree program in ethnology. During the years of the department’s existence its staff and post-graduate students have defended 24 kandidatskaya theses.

The department, in the middle of the third decade of its existence is full of energy and creativity. We, its staff hope for its further prosperity.

Copyrigt © Кафедра этнологии, антропологии, археологии и музеологии
Омского государственного университета им. Ф.М. Достоевского
Омск, 2001–2018