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Current research seminars

2015/16 research seminar programme

Semester 1

Nikolai Marr at Ani: Excavating his Imperial Ideal

Thursday 8 October at 5pm, Quad 31 - Russian Research Poster Oct 2015 (PDF, 176 KB)

Louise McReynolds delivered a talk on the career of Nikolai Marr (1864-1934), one of the most important and controversial figures in the fields of linguistics and archeology.  Born to a Georgian mother and Scottish father in Kutaisi, Georgia,  then part of the Russian empire, Marr made his career in the imperial capital, receiving his education at St. Petersburg University and eventually becoming its Dean of Oriental Languages.  McReynolds traced the ideological underpinnings of Marr's archeological work on the ancient Armenian city of Ani.  Excavating Ani in the first decades of the twentieth century, Marr found precisely what he wanted to find: evidence that only imperial rule,  regardless of the empire's ideology,  could ensure the peaceful cohabitation of various ethnic and religious groups.  In this light, Stalin's embrace of Marr's theories is less than surprising; Marr proved himself a Stalinist avant la lettre, anticipating the dictator's policy on nationalities and his imperialistic ideal of 'socialism in one country'.  McReynolds also shared plans for her broader project on Russian archeology, which makes use of the latest innovations in digital humanities.