On a Top-Quality Humanity Scholar
The reviewed book describes the life and research work of Andrey Sagalaev (1953–2002), a famous Russian ethnographer, doctor of historical sciences, professor, public figure. Colleagues, students and friends of Andrey Sagalaev became the authors of the collective monograph. The first part of the book contains scholarly articles, field and archival materials, and translations related to the themes of the mythology, folklore, cult practices of the peoples of Siberia and the Far East. Culture is viewed as a synthetic phenomenon that goes beyond the narrow framework of evolutionary theory in these works. Culture does not have universals given “initially”. There are no absolutely identical plots. Accordingly, each of the cultures (“large” and “small”) is unique. Andrey Sagalaev believed that an archaic culture and an archaic society are a unique way of development, and the only possible one in the harsh environmental conditions of Siberia, the North, or the Far East, and this way requires understanding. He viewed Siberian shamanism as a special form of the natural philosophy of nature with its unique complex of ideas, ceremonial-ritual and cult components. The authors of the monograph developed these ideas in their research included in the book. They examine the themes of shamanism, the genesis of mythologems, the identification of the general and the special in the mythological plots of different ethnic groups, the search for borrowings and sources of origin of certain mythical (cultural) heroes and plots, the description of cult and ritual elements. The second part of the book contains materials that can be attributed to the epistolary genre: memoirs, letters, and newspaper journalism. These issues made it possible to more fully reveal the versatility of Andrey Sagalaev's research interests and the facets of his extraordinary personality.