Accepted paper:

Self-educated ethnologist: Jan Witort (1853-1903), 'an ethnographer from Lithuania'

Authors:

Auksuole Cepaitiene (Lithuanian Institute of History)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will discuss the Jan Witort's case of becoming an ethnologist, and the ways in which ideas travel across political boundaries, and make an impact on intellectual contexts. It will give attention to the specificity of the epoch, the region and personal lived experience.

Paper long abstract:

In the second half of the nineteenth century when anthropology in the West was establishing its paradigmatic route Lithuania was a part of Russian Empire with forbidden Latin alphabet, without university, and with its social elite being of Polish culture and identity. Folkloristic, ethnological and anthropological approaches, discovered during the previous era of Vilnius University, were developed by Imperial Russian Geographical Society, Lithuanian Literary Society in Prussia, and Polish Ethnological Society. Jan Witort, 'an ethnographer from Lithuania' who was greatly influenced by cultural evolutionism, was a member of Polish Ethnological Society. He got acquainted with ethnography, and social theory during his deportations to the north of Russia, and later to Siberia where he was sentenced for his revolutionary activity. In deportations, he had a chance to read the works of Herbert Spencer, Edward Burnett Tylor, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant and the others, which stimulated his engagement into social critique, and studies of customary law, family, community and social organization. The paper will discuss the Jan Witort's case of becoming an ethnologist, and the ways in which ideas travel across political boundaries, and make an impact on intellectual contexts. It will give attention to the specificity of the epoch, the region and personal lived experience.

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