Perception Versus Reception of the Orient by Soviet Semioticians: Oriental Studies in the Moscow-Tartu / Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School

It is a well-known fact that within the framework of the Moscow-Tartu / Tartu-Moscow semiotic school there worked several famous specialists in oriental studies: Alexander Pjatigorsky (1929–2009), Boris Ogibenin (b. 1940), Tat’jana Elizarenkova (1929–2007), Linnart Mäll (1938–2010), among others. Besides, even specialists in other fields of academic knowledge belonging to this school (such as Vladimir Toporov [1928–2005] and Vjacheslav Ivanov [1929–2017]) used to study the material of oriental studies in their works, elaborating some important fragments of their theories (such as, for instance, the “primary myth” of Slavic vs Indo-European mythology, the reconstruction of which is still now sometimes considered as one of the best known parts of work of the “Moscow semiotic circle”, which constituted a part of the Moscow-Tartu / Tartu-Moscow semiotic school). In our presentation we are going to consider the place of oriental studies in the general context of the Moscow-Tartu / Tartu-Moscow semiotic school. In particular, on the basis of recent interviews with some protagonists of this school we shall analyze the history and epistemology of connections between academic linguistics (both historical linguistics and early structuralism), semiotics and oriental studies in the late USSR. 

Velmezova, E. (éd.), L’Ecole sémiotique de Moscou-Tartu / Tartu-Moscou : Histoire. Epistémologie. Actualité, vol. 40 of Slavica Occitania, 2015.

Ekaterina Velmezova

University of Lausanne

full professor of Slavistics and history and epistemology of language sciences in Eastern Europe at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lausanne. My principal works concern the history and epistemology of language sciences in Central and Eastern Europe, and Czech and Russian ethnolinguistics. My work has focused, in particular, on the history of linguistics as reflected in the history of literature, on the history of the Moscow-Tartu semiotic school and on the reception of Saussurean structuralism.

Moscow-Tartu semiotic school
oriental studies
history and epistemology of semiotics
semiotic reconstruction