Classification – name: Literary studies
Pages: 107-140
Publisher: A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IWL RAS Publ.)
Rights – description: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 (СС BY-ND)
Rights – URL:
Language of the publication: Russian
Type of document: Research Article
Collection: Abkhazia in Russian Literature of the 19th  — 20th Centuries: in 3 vols. Vol. 1
Year of publication: 2021
Place of publication: Moscow


Author: Yuri D. Anchabadze
Anchabadze, Yu.D. “‘One of the Most Interesting Peoples of the Caucasus...’ Lectures by A. N. Genko on Ethnography of Abkhazians.”Abkhazia in Russian Literature of the 19th — 20th Centuries: in 3 vols. Vol. 1. Resp. ed. M. I. Shcherbakova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2021, pp. 107–140.(In Russian)

About the author:

Yuri D. Anchabadze, DSc in History, Head of Department of Caucasus, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Leninsky Av. 32 a, 119334 Moscow, Russia; Leading Research Fellow, Department of Literature of D. I. Gulia Abkhazian Institute for Research in the Humanities, Abkhazian Academy of Sciences, Aidgylar St. 44, 384900 Sukhumi, Abkhazia.


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


This study was carried out at IWL RAS with a grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project No 20-012-00098А).


the Author for the first time introduces into scientific circulation lectures about Abkhazia by the outstanding scientist, linguist, ethnologist, and kavkazologist A. N. Genko, read by him in the autumn of 1940 to students of the ethnographic Department of the Geographical faculty of Leningrad University. The publication of this unique material is preceded by a preamble that includes the history of the creation of authorized typewriting and its preservation by Genko’s family in the difficult situation of his arrest and death in custody. Text preparation and scientific commentary complement the publication of this valuable source. As the only professional ethnographer who worked in Abkhazia in the late 1920s–1930s, Genko collected information that is invaluable today as unique evidence of the era of actively transformed ethnographic reality, which appears in the history of Abkhazia in the first decades of Soviet power. The scientist had the opportunity to observe the living existence of patriarchal “remnants,” which invariably posed the problem of their functionality in a fairly successfully modernizing Abkhaz society. The text of Genko’s lectures reflects the heuristic interests of ethnographic knowledge of the modern era; it is based on the author’s direct and deep acquaintance with the Abkhaz ethnocultural society, on a voluminous generalization of the material at his disposal, a thorough knowledge of the sources and historiography of the problem. This makes it possible to consider Genko’s lectures as an example of the Russian scientific narrative about Abkhazia in the middle of the last century.

Keywords: Caucasus, Abkhazia, A. N. Genko, Caucasian studies, ethnography.