About the Author

Dr. Alexander D. King
University of Aberdeen

I first created this site because I had received invaluable assistance and advice from elder anthropologists working in NE Asia and Alaska, and Koryak Net is one way I repay this debt in terms of generalized reciprocity. Now, the main purpose of Koryak Net is to provide scholarly information on the indigenous people of northern Kamchatka, especially those who are often labeled "Koryak." My dissertation deconstructed this label, but like many labels they remain useful as a point of departure as long as one doesn't think of them as referring to real entities with essential identities.

Curriculum Vitae

Professional Associations
Book Reviews Published
Papers Read and Presentations


Linguistic anthropology: ethnography of speaking, ethnopoetics, descriptive grammar.
Social anthropology: symbolic anthropology, political use of culture, nationalism, postsocialist societies, ritual and shamanism.

Regional Focus

Siberia, the Russian Far Esat, and the North Pacific rim, especially Indigenous NE Asia and NW America; Russia and the XSSR; Alaska; Northwest Coast of America.


2000 Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Virginia
1996 M. A., Anthropology, University of Virginia
1991 B. A., Anthropology, Reed College, Portland, Oregon

Academic Employment

2011-pres. Senior Lecturer of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom
2003-11 Lecturer of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
2001-02 Research Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany
2000-02 Assistant Professor, California State University, Chico, USA
1991-93 Instructor, EFL, Volkshochschule Lichtenberg-Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Professional Employment

April 1999 Consultant, International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank Group

Managing Editor, Sibirica: Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

2005-12 Volume 5-11
2004 Volume 4 (appeared in 2005) Published by Taylor & Francis

Associate Editor, Sibirica: Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

2013-Pres Volume 12+

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2011 Living with Koryak Traditions: Playing with Culture in Siberia. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Articles and Chapters in Edited Collections

2011 The Palana House of Culture. In Otto Habeck and Brian Donahoe, editors. Reconstructing the House of Culture: Community, Self and the Makings of Culture in Russia and Beyond. Oxford: Berghahn Books. Pp. 189-211.

2011 A Literary History of Koryak: Writing and Publishing an Indigenous Siberian Language. In Karen Langgård and Kirsten Thisted, editors. From Oral Tradition to Rap: Literatures of Polar North. Nuuk, Greenland: Ilisimatusarfik/Forlaget Atuagkat. Pp. 269-284.

2009 Dancing in the House of Koryak Culture. Folklore: Journal of the Estonian Literary Museum. Special Issue on Generation P in the Tundra: Young People in Siberia. 41: 7-26.

2006 The Siberia Studies Manifesto. Sibirica: Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies. 5(1): v-xv.

2005 Genuine and Spurious Dance Forms in Kamchatka, Russia. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Working Paper Series No. 79.

2004 Deema Kaneff & A. D. King. Owning Culture. Focaal, European Journal of Anthropology. 44: 3-19.

2004 Raven Tales from Kamchatka. In Voices from the Four Directions. Brian Swann, editor. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Pp. 3-24.

2004 Authenticity and Real Cultural Properties in the Russian Far East. In Erich Kasten, editor. Properties of Culture – Culture as Property: Pathways to Reform in Post-Soviet Siberia. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag. Pp. 51-65.

2004 King, A. D., Josh Newll, and Mikhail Krechmar 2004. Introduction to Chapter 7: Magadan Oblast. In J. Newell, editor. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development. Pp. 259-264. McKinleyville, CA: Daniel & Daniel Publishers.

2004 King, A. D. and Josh Newell 2004 Perspetive of Magadan Oblast. In J. Newell, editor. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development. Pp. 278-281. McKinleyville, CA: Daniel & Daniel Publishers.

2004 Introduction to Chapter 9: Koryak Autonomous Okrug. In J. Newell, editor. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development. Pp. 313-318. McKinleyville, CA: Daniel & Daniel Publishers.

2003 Social Security in Kamchatka: Rural and Urban Comparisons. In The Postsocialist Agrarian Question. Chris Hann, editor. Münster: Litt-Verlag. Pp. 391-418.

2002 “Without Deer There is No Culture, Nothing”. Anthropology and Humanism. 27(2):133-164.

2002 Reindeer Herders’ Culturescapes in the Koryak Autonomous Okrug. In People and Land in the Russian North. Erich Kasten, editor. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Pp. 63-80.

1999 Soul Suckers: Vampiric Shamans in Northern Kamchatka, Russia. Anthropology of Consciousness.10(4):74-85.

1994 An Outline of the Symbolic Capital and Domination in the Tlingit Potlatch. In Kommunikation und Humanontogenese. Karl-Friedrich Wessel and Frank Naumann, ediors. Bielefeld, BRD: Kleine Verlag. Pp. 471-479.

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Teaching Experience

Currently at University of Aberdeen

AT1003 Introduction to Anthropology: Peoples of the World

Course coordinator and lecturer. Responsible for managing 4-5 tutors for the primary introductory course of about 240-280 students. Topics include culture concept, symbolic anthropology, ritual, kinship, gender, exchange, indigenous peoples, as well as a series of skills workshops in reading peer-reviewed articles, bibliographic searches, writing, and identifying unconscious assumptions.

AT4030/5016 Anthropology of Myth

Advanced course on the study of myth from anthropological perspective, focusing on the performance of myths and related narratives and social and political implications of such stories. Case studies from ancient Greece, Balkans, indigenous South and North America, Siberia, and Buddhist Asia.

AT3517 & AT4005 Research Project Parts I & II

Supervising 1-2 MA (undergraduate honours) research dissertations in anthropology each year. Mentoring the application of research skills to student-directed project, involving synthesizing theoretical orientation drawn from relevant existing literature with empirical data gathering and ethnographic analysis. Includes ethics and risk assessments.

Postgraduate lectures in College of Arts & Social Sciences

Undergraduate teaching outside school

LN1002 (Communication & Language)– 4 hours on orality & writing and ethnography of speaking to first year linguistics students.

ED1057 (Being Human)– 1 lecture introducing future teachers to social issues of language use

RS1501 (Religions of the World III: Social Practices)– 2 hours on shamans and shamanism

Previously at University of Aberdeen

AT2508 Perceiving Cultural Differences (2003-2010)

Coordinated foundational course at 2nd year. Responsible for course content, structure, and management and delivery of teaching. Managing lecturing and tutoring teams. Content included culture concept, kinship, structuralism, post-modern critique and resolutions, ethnography, ethnicity, exchange theory.

AT4022/4522 Oral Traditions, Voice & Power (2010)

Developed initial proposal. Coordinated jointly with Dr. Nancy Wachowich. Jointly responsible for teaching delivery & management, developing course content, student assessment, and quality maintenance. Themes included oral history, narratives as art, perspectives on truth, power & agency.

AT4013/4513 Language in Culture and Society (2004-2009)

Coordinating fourth year course. Sole responsibility for teaching delivery & management, developing course content, student assessment, and quality maintenance.

AT3503 Writing Anthropology (2003-2005)

Developed initial proposal and established brand new course filling unrecognized need to teach advanced writing skills to 3rd-year single honours students, practicing writing ethnographic descriptions and other anthropological genres.

SL5509 Case Studies in Research Ethics

Course coordinator and principal lecturer. Course presented a grounding in ethical problem solving related to qualitative research, analyses ethics codes of key professional bodies in anthropology and sociology, and required students to work through several case studies.

Courses taught at CSU Chico

Courses taught at University of Virginia

Postgraduate student supervision

Ph.D. students: Jenanne Ferguson, ‘Language policies, ideologies and communicative practices among speakers of Sakha, Evenki and Russian in the Sakha Republic’.
Rodrigo Ferrari-Nunes, ‘Music Making in Shetland’.

Ph.D. secondary supervisions - 1 (Katrin Simon)

Ph.D. Dissertations

M.Res. Dissertations supervised

Ph.D. Dissertations Examined

M.Phil Dissertations Examined

External Examining

2011-Pres. Goldsmiths College, UL, MA Social Anthropology and MA Anthropology and Cultural Politics

2011 Sept. External subject specialist for Goldsmiths Anthropology Department periodic review of teaching all undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes

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Selected Reviews Published

2004 Herman, D. Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. In Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 14(2):297-98.

2003 Vakhtin, N. B., Iazyki Narodov Severa v XX veke: Ocherki iazykovogo sdviga. In The Slavic Review.

2002a Rethmann, P., Tundra Passages: History and Gender in the Russian Far East. In American Ethnologist. 29(2):424-25.

2002b Anderson, D., Identity and Ecology in Arctic Siberia : The Number One Reindeer Brigade . In American Anthropologist. 104(1):340-41.

2001 Balzer, M., The Tenacity of Ethnicity : A Siberian Saga in Global Perspective. In The Russian Review. 60(2):297.


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Translation and Editing

2004 (contributing editor for two chapters) Koryak Autonomous Okrug, Magadan Oblast. In Josh Newell, editor. The Russian Far East: Forests, Biodiversity Hotspots, and Industrial Developments. Tokyo: Friends of the Earth-Japan.

1999 (with Christina Kincaid) Chapter 12: Social Programs in Northern Villages: Employment, Education, and Health. In Neotraditionalism in the Russian North: Indigenous Peoples and the Legacy of Perestroika. Aleksandr Pika, editor. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

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Selected Presentations

2012 ‘The Patterning of Style: Indices of Performance through Ethnopoetic Analysis of Century-old Wax Cylinders’, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, March 5.

2011 ‘Performing Culture: A Comparison of Traditional Dance Ensembles in Kamchatka and Alaska’. History of Art Seminar, University of Aberdeen. March 16.

2011 ‘The Patterning of Style: Ethnopoetic Analysis of Century-old Wax Cylinders of Koryak Narratives’. Department of Anthropology, University College London. January 19.

2010 ‘Walking your Dog to the Afterlife: Funerary Rituals and Communication in Siberia’. Department of Anthropology. University of Edinburgh. 15 January.

2009 ‘Dancing indigenous heritage in Kamchatka and Alaska’. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Indigeneity and Performance: Workshop supported by the AHRC ‘Beyond Text’ programme on Heritage and Material Culture. London. 18 September.

2008 ‘The brief history of writing among Siberian Koryaks’. Human Dimensions in the Circumpolar Arctic, Umeå, Sweden, 8-10 October 2008.

2008 ‘Spirits and Power in Northeast Siberian Koryak Hunting Rituals’. Institute of Northern Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University, 9 July.

2005 Poster: ‘Creative Traditions: Culture, dance, and identity among indigenous Siberians’. University of Aberdeen, ASA Annual Meetings, 4-7th April.

2005 “The power of dancing in small Siberian villages.” University of Manchester. 21 February.

2004 “On invented cultures with authentic traditions” and invited final discussant for conference Generation P in the Tundra at Estonian Literary Museum and Tartu University, Tartu, Estonia. 8-10 October.

2004 "Raven Stories Across the Bering Strait" Seminar on Eastern Siberia The Ecology and Political Economy of Beringia (Seminar 3 of Sustainability, Biodiversity and Knowledge in the Northern Circumpolar Regions, organized by A. D. King). University of Aberdeen. 10th September.

2004 Hunter Gatherer Coastal Economies: Conference of the Baikal Area Project. University of Aberdeen. “Traditional Innovations in NE Siberian coastal-inland trading networks.” 30-32 May.

2004 International Congress of Arctic Social Scientists (ICASS V). Fairbanks, Alaska. Session Co-organizer with Patty Gray and Gary Kofinas. Herding Reindeer and Hunting Caribou: Circumpolar Perspectives on People and Deer. Paper presented: “Case Studies of Reindeer Herd Management and Privatization of State Farms in 1990s Kamchatka.” 19-23 May.

2004 Hololo Hunting Rituals in Kamchatka, Russia. Marischal Museum Tuesday Evening Lecture Series. Abderdeen. 3 February.

2003 “Understanding Koryak Hunting Rituals through Found Video.” University of Aberdeen research seminar in Social Anthropology, Ethnology and Cultural History. 9 October.

2003 “Bridging the East-West divide in an anthropology of northern empires.” Colloquium on Anthropology of the North, Inauguration of the Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, 1 November.

2003 “Value and authenticity in Koryak ethnic dance.”Institute of Social Anthropology, Oxford, UK. 16 May.

2003 “100 Years of Koryak Oral Narratives and Song: report on Ethnohistorical Work with Recordings from the Jesup Expedition of 1901 in Kamchtka.” Russian Human Sciences: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Peter the Great Museum of Ethnography and Anthropology, St. Petersburg, Russia. [in Russian]. 20-22 March.

2002 “Postsoviet and Postcolonial Parallels in the Representations of Indigneous Cultures.” American Anthropological Association Meetings, New Orleans. 23 November.

2002 “The Ololo Hunting Ritual among Kamchatka Koryaks.” European University, St. Petersburg, Russia. 14 November. [in Russian]

2002 “Postindustrial foragers in the postsocialist Russian Far East.” Ninth International Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies. September 9-13. Edinburgh, Scotland.

2002 “How to Dance Like a Real Koryak.” A World of Cultures: Culture as Property in Anthropological Perspective. July 1-2. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany.

2002 “Research topics and local agendas.” Who Owns Siberian Ethnography? An International Workshop on Methods and Approaches to Ethnography in the Russian North. March 6-9. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany.

2002 “Social Security in Kamchatka in Postsoviet Times.” Changing entitlements: Social security, land ownership and rural-urban differences. March 1. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany.

2001 “Informant, Consultant, or Colleague? Moral Minefields between American ‘Ethnographer’ and Siberian ‘Natives’.” American Anthropological Association Meetings, Washington, D.C.

2001 “Transcribing the Jochelson & Bogoras wax cylinder recordings from 1901.” Presentation at opening of special exhibit marking 100th anniversary of Jesup North Pacific Expedition by Vladimir Jochelson in Kamchatka. Palana Regional Museum. Palana, Russia. [in Russian].

2001 “Ethoscapes vs. Culturescapes: Ethnicity, Place, and Identity in Kamchatka, Russia,” Soyuz Annual Symposium on Cultural Studies of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, Berkeley, CA.

2000 “Reindeer Herders' Landscapes and Culturescapes in the Koryak Autonomous Okrug.” Workshop: Postsocialisms in the Russian North. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany.

1999 “‘This is not my language!’ Failure of native language education/revival among the Koryaks of Kamchatka, Russia,” American Anthropological Association Meetings, Chicago, IL.

1999 “Authenticity and the Construction of Native Culture in the Russian Far East,” Soyuz Annual Symposium on Cultural Studies of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, Bloomington, IN.

1998 “Soul Suckers: Shamanic Vampires in Northern Kamchatka, Russia,” American Anthropological Association Meetings, Philadelphia.

1996 "The Politics of Culture and Competition for Resources in the Russian Far East," Sixth Annual Symposium on Soviet and Post-Soviet Cultural Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

1995 “The Adventures of Bird Man,” Fifth Annual Symposium on Soviet and Post-Soviet Cultural Studies, Columbia University.

1994 “A Critique of Geertz’s Theory of Culture as Text,” Graduate Symposium on Bodies and Text, English Department, University of Virginia.

1993 “An Outline of the Symbolic Capital and Domination in the Tlingit Potlatch.” Konferenz Kommunikation und Humanontogenese an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

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Professional Associations

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Grants, Fellowships, Honors

2012-14 Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (Hans Rausing), ‘Documentation of Koryak Ethnopoetics: Stories from Speakers of Non-standard Varieties of Koryak and Nymylan Koryak’, (REF. MDP0268, £128,841)
2011 Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Research Grant (£2,200)
2011 Principal’s Interdisciplinary Fund, University of Aberdeen (£3,000)
2006-09 ESRC Research Project, ‘Dance, Tradition and Power among Alaskan Eskimos’ (REF. RES-000-2301545, £120,720)
2001 Summer Stipend, National Endowment for the Humanities
2001 Summer Scholars Fellowship, California State University, Chico
1999 Dissertation Fellowship, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia
1997-98 Individual Advanced Research Opportunities in Eurasia Fellowship, International Research & Exchange Board (IREX)
1997-98 Individual Small Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation
1997-99 Graduate International Fellowship, National Security Education Program
1995-96 Graduate Training Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Joint Committee on the Soviet Union and Its Successor States
1994-95 Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship, University of Virginia
1993-94 Academic Enhancement Program Fellowship, University of Virginia
1991 Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Reed Colleg



Trying to be Koryak: Soviet Constructions of Indigeneity in Kamchatka, Russia


Richard Handler
Dell Hymes
Peter Metcalf
Roy Wagner
Robert Geraci (History Dept.)
Department of Anthropology
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400120
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4120
fax: +1(434) 924-1350

Foreign languages

Fluent in Russian, proficient in German, knowledge of Koryak, Spanish.

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Main Page

Page Date: 23 April 2013

Alexander King, WEBMASTER (at) KORYAKS (dot) NET, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK