Chairman of the Commission
Director of N.N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropologyof the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor
One of the four "pillars" of the Society was the Department of Ethnography, which had been established in 1845. According to the temporary Charter among the interests of the Department was information about previous and current status of nations within a state "in the physical, moral, social and linguistic relation". There are still several thousand manuscripts of ethnographic character in the archives of the Society, collected from all corners of Russia. The detailed inventory with annotations for these materials was partially published one hundred years ago by ethnographer Dmitry Zelenin (three-volume edition of "Description of manuscripts of the science archive of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society," 1914-16). But this work was interrupted, and the fourth is still not published.
An important trend was the development of ethnographic maps. In the XIX century well-known ethnographic maps of European Russia by Koppen (1851) and by Rittiha (1875) were developed. With the help of the Department "Notes of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society on ethnography", a magazine "Living Antiquity" and Ethnographic Collection were published.
In the XIX century the Society had an idea of opening an ethnographic museum, unfortunately, it did not come true. Items for the museum exhibition collected during expeditions (Litke, Maclay, Valihanov Potanin and so on.), were handed over to the Kunstkamera in 1891.
There were Medals of the Society in the Department of Ethnography. The Department is closely tied with the history of academic ethnography. This was especially evident in the work of Sergei Fedorovich Oldenburg, who was a chairman of the Department for a long time and at the same time the Secretary of the Academy of Sciences. The Standing Committee of the compilation of ethnic maps of Russia was established under the Department. This Committee was the platform for a scientific institution of the Academy of Sciences which was created in the post-revolutionary time. It was a commission for a study of the tribal composition, and one of the "progenitors" of N.N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the RAS.
The activities of the Department of Ethnography faded by the mid 30-ies of the last century. In 1946 it was re-established, but became uncoordinated ethnographic commissions in different regions of the country.
With the revival of the Russian Geographical Society in 2009 re-creation of its traditional commissions and offices began. At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Society in the spring of 2011, Chairman of the Board V.V. Putin proposed to re-establish the Ethnographic Commission. Director of N.N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropologyof the Russian Academy of Sciences Academician Valery Tishkov has agreed to become the Chairman of the Commission.
The first meeting of the Commission was held on December 13, 2013. Leading national scholars and representatives of regional offices of the Society (about 30 people) were invited to participate in the meeting. The partisipants discussed the draft statute of the Commission and its work plan for 2014, which dealt with a variety of ethnographic festivals, educational and museum projects, publishing.