Sergei Kan

Anthropologist, Author


Who is Sergei Kan?

Sergei A. Kan is an American anthropologist known for his research with and writings on the Tlingit people of southeast Alaska, focusing on the potlatch and on the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in Tlingit communities.

Kan is of Russian Jewish origin and came to the U.S. in 1974. He did undergraduate studies at Boston University and received his master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago, where he was a student of the anthropologist Raymond D. Fogelson. Kan also cites the influence of Nancy Munn, George W. Stocking, Jr., and John and Jean Comaroff.

He began fieldwork with the Tlingit in Sitka, Alaska, in 1979 and in 1980 was adopted by Charlotte Young into the Kaagwaantaan clan. In 1991, he was adopted by Mark Jacobs into the Tlingit Dakl'aweidĂ­ clan.

He was an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan before going to Dartmouth College, where he was granted tenure in 1993.

Kan's most recent publications reveal the relationship between Tlingit and anthropologists as well as American attitudes toward images of and relations with the Tlingit in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A long-standing interest in the peoples and cultures of the entire Pacific Northwest Coast has led me to co-editing a volume of essays representing some of the major recent work in the field, this book, Coming to Shore: Northwest Coast Ethnology, Traditions and Visions, was published in 2004. In the fall of 2006 and the summer of 2010, Kan conducted ethnographic and archival research in southeastern Alaska on a new topic: a collection of photographs taken by Vincent Soboleff in a Tlingit community of Killisnoo/Angoon in the 1890s-1920s. This project will result in a book entitled Vincent Soboleff: A Russian-American Photographer in Tlingit Country to be published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

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  • United States of America
  • University of Chicago
  • Boston University

on July 23, 2013


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