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Kazimierz Moszyński,

ethnographer, ethnologist, linguist, and expert in Slavic studies; b. 5 March 1887 in Warsaw, d. 30 March 1959 in Kraków. He attended middle school in Warsaw before studying biology in Bern and Freiburg (1906-09). Having returned to Poland, he studied with Józef Mehoffer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. At that time he became interested in folk culture. In 1914 he prepared an ethnographic research plan in the region of Polesie, which resulted in writing the work Polesie Wschodnie. In the 1920s he conducted the 1st systematic field research on material heritage in Poland. The study covered over 100 villages. In 1930 he initiated a team fieldwork that focused on intangible heritage, which subsequently served as a basis for Atlas kultury ludowej w Polsce (An Atlas of Folk Culture in Poland). In 1932, together with musicologist Filaret Kołessa, Moszyński conducted field research on folk songs and music of Polesie. He also founded, together with Kazimierz Nitsche, and then edited the international magazine "Lud Słowiański" that dealt with the dialectology and ethnography of the Slavs. In 1919 he took the post of secretary at the University of Life Sciences in Warsaw. In 1922 he was appointed senior assistant at the Slavic Ethnology Department of the Anthropology Institute, Warsaw Scientific Society, taking over as its head in 1925. In 1926 he became deputy head of the first department of Slavic ethnography in Poland and Slavic countries, which was affiliated with the Slavic Porgramme of Jagiellonian University in Krakow. In 1935-45 Moszyński lived in Vilnius, heading the Ethnology and Ethnography Department of the Stefan Batory University from 1940. In 1945 he returned to Krakow and led the Department of Slavic Ethnography (Jagiellonian University) until his death.

Kazimierz Moszyński explored traditional culture - its forms, functions, names, and territorial reach of different customs or terminology, taking account of natural environment. He would draw the object he studied, analyse maps, and make cartograms himself. He analysed mainly representations in folkloristic and historical sources, both textual and iconographic, and obtained information mostly from fieldwork. He developed an original concept of ethnographic research, which he named critical evolutionism, and expanded the scope of the study of culture dynamics in order to include a geographical, linguistic, and historical approach. He also argued that the Slavs originated in Asia, proving that they once lived in the northwest of Ukraine, which went against the prevailing autochthonous theory.

Moszyński's academic work did not only focus on Slavic ethnography, but pertained also to ethnology, theory of culture, and methodology of ethnographic research. His most important work is Kultura ludowa Słowian (The Folk Culture of the Slavs), Europe's first comprehensive study of a large ethnic group's folk culture. He discussed Slavic culture also in Pierwotny zasięg języka prasłowiańskiego (The original reach of the Proto-Slavic language) and O sposobach badania kultury materialnej Prasłowian (On the methods of studying the material heritage of early Slavs). His output is now kept in the Archives of the Jagiellonian Library, Archives of Ethnology Department of Jagiellonian University, and the Archives of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.


November 2014 (ab)