Professor Piers Vitebsky

    • Professor Piers Vitebsky's details
      • Country: UK
      • Region: Cambridge
      • Studies: Assistant Director of Research
      • University: Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
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    • Professor Piers Vitebsky's presentations

    Piers Vitebsky has been Head of Anthropology and Russian Northern Studies at the Scott Polar Research Institute since 1986.

    He was educated at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Delhi and London, and studied ancient languages before becoming a social anthropologist specialising in the religion, psychology, poetics and ecology of small-scale societies, and the relations of these societies to the centralised state.

    He has carried out long-term fieldwork among shamans and shifting cultivators in tribal India since 1975, and among nomadic reindeer herders in the Siberian Arctic since 1988.

    In the Russian Arctic, he was the first westerner since the Revolution to live long-term with an indigenous community. In the early 1980s, he also studied marginal subsistence agriculturalists in Sri Lanka.

    Piers Vitebsky has supervised over 20 PhD theses on Siberia, the wider Arctic, and the Indian subcontinent. He has trained a generation of specialists on the Russian North who now occupy positions in universities, government departments and NGOs worldwide. He is the initiator and convenor of the Magic Circle interdisciplinary seminar on religion, ritual and symbolism.

    Languages: Russian, French, Modern Greek, Sora (tribal India, Austroasiatic family), Classical Greek, Latin; some knowledge of many other European, Indian and Siberian languages.