Some history

The Institute of Language, Literature and History was organized on April 1, 1970 on the basis of several departments of the Komi Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences that had existed within the academic institution since 1944 (the basis for them being the Komi Scientific Research Institute (SRI) opened in 1934). Some leaders and researchers of the above Scientific Research Institute started their scientific activity in the Society for the Study of the Komi Land (SSKL) – the first scientific organization in the Komi autonomy. Namely the members of the Society (1922-1931) had the idea of organizing an academic center in the Komi Region, and it was in this Society that a project of the future Komi Scientific Research Institute and its program of activity was developed. Some SSKL members, including A.S.Sidorov and V.I.Lytkin, later worked in the Komi Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences. So the activity of SSKL and SRI may be considered as the pre-history of the Institute of Language, Literature and History.

In 1968 a memorandum was sent to M.V.Keldysh, academician, from the Presidium of the Komi Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences stating that “there were all necessary conditions in the Komi Branch for the organization of the Institute of Language, Literature and History”. On September 25, 1969 a decision of the State Committee for Science was passed, followed by the decision of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences “On the organization of the Institute of Language, Literature and History of the Komi Branch, USSR Academy of Sciences” of September 25, 1969. On March 26, 1970 at the session of the Presidium of the Komi Branch, USSR Academy of Sciences, it was decided to organize the Institute of Language, Literature and History on April 1, 1970, with three departments to be included: History; Ethnography and Archaeology; Language and Literature.

Aleksandr SmetaninN.N.Rochev, Candidate of Science (History), acted as the Director, and A.A.Vezhev as Academic Secretary. From 1985 to 1996 the Institute of Language, Literature and History was headed by A.D.Napalkov, Candidate of Science (History). Deputy Director on Science is E.A.Savelyeva, Doctor of Science (History). From 1971 to 1996, the post of the Academic Secretary of the Institute was takensubsequently by T.I.Zhilina, Candidate of Science (Philology), A.N.Rakin, Candidate of Science (Philology), T.N.Gabova, Candidate of Science (Philology), Yu.P.Shabaev, Candidate of Science (History). In 1996 I.L.Zherebtsov, Doctor of Science (History), was elected as Academic Secretary. Since 1996 the Director of the Institute is Aleksandr Frantsovich Smetanin, Candidate of Science (History).

Later the departments were divided into sections: the Komi-Permian Department of Social Sciences (in Kudymkar, Komi-Permian Autonomous District), the Editorial-Publishing Department, and the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography. The structure of the Institute has been changed many times, but the main directions of scientific research have remained the same and continue to develop.


Structure of the Institute

At present there are 5 scientific-research departments in Syktyvkar: History (head – A.N.Turubanov, Doctor of Science (History); Archaeology (head – E.A.Savelyeva, Doctor of Science (History); Language (head – G.V.Fedyuneva, Candidate of Science (Philology); Ethnography (head – N.D.Konakov, Candidate of Science (History); Literature and Folklore (head – P.F.Limerov, Candidate of Science (Philology), as well as the Editorial-Publishing Department (head – I.L.Zherebtsov, Doctor of Science (History) and the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography (head – L.V.Mizina). These departments are not only the repository of the richest collections of ancient and traditional culture of the Komi people, but also a center of scientific-popularizing work. The Komi-Permian Department of Social Sciences (head – A.S.Savelyev, Candidate of Science (History) is located in Kudymkar (Komi-Permian Autonomous District).

89 people work at the Institute, among them 8 Doctors and 33 Candidates of Science (History and Philology). In the Department of  History there are 4 Doctors of Science (I.L.Zherebtsov, M.A.Matsuk, A.N.Turubanov, V.I.Chuprov), in the Department of Archaeology – 2 Doctors of Science (E.A.Savelyeva, V.N.Stokolos), in the Department of Ethnography – 1 Doctor of Science (Yu.P.Shabaev), in the Department of Language – 1 Doctor of Science (A.N.Rakin). In the last five years 5 Doctorate and 12 Candidate Dissertations were defended and 28 people have taken a post-graduate course. The staff of the Institute is successfully carrying out scientific research.


Main directions of research

The Institute of Language, Literature and History, Komi Science Centre, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, is one of the largest centers of Finno-Ugristics and the leading research institution in the European North-East of Russia in the field of historical and philological sciences. The Institute conducts fundamental research in archaeology, ethnography, folklore, history, linguistics and literary criticism. The scientists of the Institute do research in the following fields:

  • The study of archaeological cultures of the Stone Age, Metal Age and mediaeval ages of the European North-East of Russia;

  • Research on the main problems of political and socio-economic history and the history of culture, historical demography of the European North of Russia;

  • The study of general regularities and specific peculiarities of the development of traditional spiritual and material culture and way of life of the Komi and Russian population of the Republic of Komi and the Komi-Permians;

  • The study of regularities of the development of the Komi language and its history as well as the compilation of various dictionaries;

  • The study of peculiarities of Komi literature, folklore and musical art and the problems of their interaction with the cultures of other peoples.

The Institute of Language, Literature and History, Komi Science Centre, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, has made a great contribution to scholarship in priority directions of modern historical and philological science development which have general theoretical importance. Hence the developed problems are closely related to the needs of the Republic of Komi, to meeting the growing requirements in the study and teaching of Komi history and culture, the Komi language and its functional possibilities in realizing a new national-language policy of Russia. It is important to stress the continuity in the themes of research. New themes are based on previous research of the Institute of Language, Literature and History and are aimed at studying the key problems of the ancient and modern history, traditional culture and way of life, language, at widening and deepening the understanding of the set problems, and – in some cases – at reconsidering the former assessments by way of attracting new factual material.

In the 90-s the Institute fulfilled a number of large generalizing works that have great theoretical and practical importance. Among them is the scientific report “The History of the Komi Republic” (3960 pages; scientific advisers – A.N.Turubanov, Dr.Sci.(History), V.I.Chuprov, Dr.Sci.(History)), where a number of important problems of the political and socio-economic history of the Komi Republic are interpreted in a new way by using a great number of different sources (some of them introduced into science for the first time). This report shows the general regularities and regional peculiarities of the demographic processes, economic development, administrative-territorial division and nation-state building, social and spiritual development of the region from ancient times to nowadays; and an assessment of historical experience in the solution of important socio-economic, political and cultural problems of the region.

The unique “Historico-cultural atlas of the Republic of Komi” (scientific adviser – E.A.Savelyeva, Dr.Sci.(History), executive officers – L.N.Zherebtsov, Cand.Sci.(History), N.D.Konakov, Cand.Sci.(History), K.S.Korolev, Cand.Sci.(History) et al.) is the first compex atlas in the Russian Federation, showing the historico-cultural heritage of the peoples of the Komi Republic from the times of initial development of this territory till the present day. A block of maps is devoted to the history of religion in Komi (the activity of Stefan of Perm and other bishops of Perm, construction of monasteries, ecclesiastic-territorial structure etc.).

The collective monograph “Archaeology of the Republic of Komi” (Moscow, 1997) is the first fundamental work in archaeology of Komi, that gives all main results of the development of material and spiritual culture of the ancient population of the north-east of European Russia in the epoch of primitive-communal system from the Ancient Stone Age (Palaeolithic) to the Late Mediaeval Ages (X-XIV centuries A.D.).

The work on a fundamental monographic description of the Komi-Zyryan dialects (it started in the 1930-s) has been finished. A monograph “The Vym dialect of the Komi language” by T.I.Zhilina, Cand.Sci.(Philology), was published, with rich material on the Vym dialect collected by the author since the 1950-s; it is a genuinely new scientific contribution. A brief sketch of the history of settlement in the Vym basin is included, the phonetic and morphological system of the dialect is described in detail, it also contains examples of the Vym speech and a dictionary with the vocabulary in Upper-Vym pronunciation, taking into account the peculiarity of dialectal semantics. This series of monographs is the first in Russian Finno- Ugristics.

The themes of scientific research have been widened, and they have attained new perspectives and directions that are of priority importance for contemporary science. In particular, historical demography is a new independent direction in the scientific research in the republic. A large series of monographs, booklets and other publications of I.L.Zherebtsov, Dr.Sci.(History), are devoted, for the first time in  science, to the demographic development of a vast region – the Komi region – during a considerably long period – the thousand years of existence of the Komi people. His work also establishes a relation between the climatic changes and the demographic development. Zherebtsov’s work is highly estimated by both russian and foreign scientists, and for one of his publications, he was awarded a prize of the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research.

The number of published works has increased. Practically all scientific results of the scientists of the Institute of Language, Literature and History are immediately introduced to the scientific community by way of publications, they become accessible to the public at large, all this being evidence of good organization and planning of scientificresearch and publishing, the ability to properly assess the requirements of scientific circles, as well as those in the fields of education, culture, and the public sphere, and to address them through different publications.

The publication of popularscientific literature and text-books is of major importance and aims at providing popularization of scientific knowledge and putting into practice the scientific achievements and their use in the teaching process in secondary and higher education. For example, such books are “The History of the Komi Republic: popular-scientific sketches”, “Entertaining facts of the History and Culture of the Komi Republic”, text-books and autodidactic text-books on Komi language etc.

The experience that has accumulated by publishing scientific works has enabled the Institute to go one step further – to prepare encyclopaedic publications (“The Komi language”, “Komi Mythology”, “The Republic of Komi”).


The Institute coordinates its work with the republican institutions of higher education and other educational organizations, scientific and cultural-educational institutions, ministries and departments, thus promoting the development of scientific research and popularization of scientific knowledge and being a coordinating center of the humanities in the Republic of Komi. At the Institute, there are trained cadres and highly skilled specialists for higher educational organizations of Syktyvkar and Kudymkar, as well as for the political authorities of the Komi Republic. An important result of the Institute’s coordination of scientific research is the participation of its workers in the Timan-Urals Expedition as a form of integration between academic science and that of the higher educational organizations in the regional geological-geophysical and geological-archaeological studies, and in training specialists on the “Integration” grant – “Support of expeditions and field studies with participation of students, post-graduates and teachers of higher educational organizations”. The teachers of the higher educational organizations carry out practical scientific studies at the departments of the Institute. The workers of the Institute give written assessments and reviews of the literature on the methodology of teaching and the works of teachers of higher educational institutions and other organizations.

The leading scientists of the Institute of Language, Literature and History act as experts-coordinators, they head different scientific, cultural-educational and local-lore organizations and societies, and they take part in Academic, Scientific and Dissertational Councils at the Syktyvkar State University, the Timber Institute and the National Archives of the Republic of Komi. A.F.Smetanin, Cand.Sci. (History), is vice-chairman of the Interdepartmental Coordinating Council on Science under the Head of the Komi Republic. I.L.Zherebtsov, Dr.Sci. (History), is chairman of the Council of the social organization “Syktyvkar” organized in 1999, which aims at cultural-educational work in the capital of the Komi Republic and assistance to local power organs in social development. I.L.Zherebtsov is also chairman of the Society for the Study of the Komi Region and chairman of the Scientific Council of the National Museum of the Republic of Komi. V.I.Chuprov, Dr.Sci. (History), is vice-chairman of the “Pechora Russia” Society and chairman of its Syktyvkar department. M.A.Matsuk, Dr.Sci. (History) is chairman of the Scientific Society of the Diocese of Syktyvkar and Vorkuta. O.P.Aksenova is head of the “Yugor” Society on Komi-Permian language. G.I.Maltsev is vice-chairman of the Executive Committee for the Revival of the Komi People.

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The Institute maintains scientific relations with scientists of Finno-Ugric Centers in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Austria, Estonia, Great Britain and the US; it participates in the development of a number of international projects. The work on the first stage of the international project “Uralic Mythology” with participation of scientists from Russia, Hungary, Finland and Estonia has recently been finished. The first volume of the 17-volume international encyclopaedic edition “Komi Mythology” (Moscow, 1999, scientific adviser – N.D.Konakov, Cand.Sci. (History) has been published, with collected and systematized mythological ideas of the Komi-Zyryans and the Komi-Permians. In this publication, the basics of the traditional worldview of the Komi and the reflection of mythological consciousness in different spheres of the people’s life are considered in a detailed and multi-faceted way . The encyclopaedia is an essential experience in Finno-Ugristics, of how to create an encyclopaedic dictionary on traditional worldviews, and it also pertains tothe international project.

The regular active participation of the Institute’s members in many important scientific congresses, conferences, seminars being held both in our country and abroad is an indicator of the authority that the scholars of the Institute enjoy. In the last 3 years the scholars of the Institute held more than 100 lectures and papers at 24 international congresses and conferences in Sweden, Finland, Poland, Hungary and Estonia. The Institute itself has also been organizer of different scientific forums including those of international significance. The VI International Finno-Ugric Congress held in July 1985 in Syktyvkar was an important confirmation of the high authority of Komi humanities. It essentially increased the prestige of science in the Komi Republic and became a landmark in history of scientific research in our region.

The International scientific conference “Christianization of the Komi region and its role in the development of statehood and culture”, held on May 6-8 1996 in Syktyvkar and devoted to the 600th anniversary of Stefan of Perm, the first bishop of Komi, was of great importance for the scientific life of the Institute as well as for the historical science of the country. Over 100 scientists from numerous scientific centers of Russia, Austria, Australia, Great Britain, Finland and Estonia participated in the work of the conference. This was the first large conference where alongside with Russian and international scientists there worked leading theologians of the country. Aleksy II, patriarch of All Russia, took part in the conference preparation.

In 1999 the international conferences “I.A.Kuratov and the problems of modern Finno-Ugristics” and “Finno-Ugric peoples: the problems of ethnic and language identification” were organized and held. The first one, which united several directions of modern Finno-Ugristics (literary criticism, linguistics and the history of public thought of the Finno-Ugric peoples), allowed to comprehend I.A.Kuratov’s creative heritage in a new way. The second one was devoted to topical problems of the study of ethnic identity peculiarities and language behaviour in different social groups of the Finno-Ugric ethnic groups of Russia.

V.N.Demin, Dr.Sci.(Philology), and the authors of the encyclopaedia “The Komi Language” (L.M.Beznosikova, A.N.Rakin, G.A.Nekrasova, G.V.Fedyuneva, E.A.Tsypanov) and the monograph “The Archaeology of the Komi Republic” (K.S.Korolev, A.M.Murygin, P.Yu.Pavlov, E.A.Savelyeva, V.S.Stokolos) were awarded State Prizes of the Komi Republic in the field of science for 1998-1999, and O.I.Ulyashev, Cand.Sci. (Philology) was awarded a State Prize in the field of culture, which shows the recognition of the Institute’s considerable contribution to fundamental and applied research, and promotion and development of the Komi culture.


Scholars of the Institute

The beginnings of the Institute are related to the names of prominent scholars such as V.I.Lytkin and A.S.Sidorov. Well-known are the names of folklorists such as A.K.Mikushev, F.V.Plesovsky, P.I.Chistalev, Yu.G.Rochev, ethnographers – L.N.Zherebtsov, L.P.Lashuk, L.S.Gribova, historians – Ya.N.Beznosikov, V.N.Davydov, the archaeologist V.I.Kanivets, literary critics – A.A.Vezhev, V.N.Demin, linguists – T.I.Zhilina, N.A.Kolegova, M.A.Sakharova, and others. Their works have provided a good basis for modern researchers.

Already for several decades L.M.Beznosikova, K.S.Korolev, E.A.Savelyeva, V.E.Stokolos, A.N.Turubanov, V.I.Chuprov have been engaged in the scientific- organizational work at the Institute.

A new generation of scientists is successfully studying the key problems of ancient and modern history, demography, traditional culture and way of life, widening and deepening the understanding of the problems raised by their predecessors. I.L.Zherebtsov, E.A.Tsypanov, I.O.Vaskul, P.F.Limerov, P.Yu.Pavlov, O.I.Ulyashev are successfully carrying on their research.

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