Finn Sivert Nielsen Anthropologist
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Academic background and teaching experience

I have undergraduate degrees from the University of Oslo in Russian language and literature, History, and Social Anthropology. As a graduate student I studied Social Anthropology and achieved the Magister Artium degree in 1987. My thesis was based on fieldwork (see below), and studies of Soviet ethnography and ethnosociology at the State University of Leningrad (in 1978 and 1983), with emphasis on ethnic minorities in the Soviet North (nentsy) and the Caucasus (particularly Dagestan). A revised version of my thesis was translated into Russian (by Aleksandra Livanova and Ekaterina Prokhorova) and published in Russia, in 2003. My written production (in Norwegian and English) includes academic work on general, theoretical, empirical and methodological, as well as applied and administrative subjects, and journalistic forays into the media. My teaching experience is extensive within the fields of Social Anthropology and East / Central European studies and includes lectures for a variety of audiences (professional researchers, students on all levels, the general public) from 1980 to the present. I have been main academic advisor for nearly 40 graduate students since 1988, about half of whom have done fieldwork in the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. From January 1994 to December 1998 I was Associate Professor (førsteamanuensis) at the University of Tromsø (with tenure since March 1995). In 1999-2007 I was Associate Professor (lektor) at the Institute of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen (Denmark), coordinator of the institute's East / Central Europe Research Group (ECEG) and (2002-2007) of the Nordic and East / Central European Network for Qualitative Social Research (NECEN). In 2008, for familial and health-related reasons, I was forced to abandon life as a full-time academic. Starting in 2012, I have gradually resumed some of my academic activities as a freelancer and, since 2014, established myself as a freelance translator and text worker (see below).

Knowledge of the former Soviet Union and Russia

I studied Russian in Oslo in 1974-76, and have since 1978 made about 35 visits to various parts of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Two visits to Russia lasted for about 6 months each, the rest were of shorter duration (up to six weeks). During my two longest stays (1978, 1983) I did anthropological fieldwork, mostly in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). My command of Russian is good, and I have worked on literary translations from Russian to English and Norwegian on several occasions. I have travelled extensively in the former Soviet Union, particularly to the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan). In 1983 I spent 4-5 weeks in Dagestan doing field research.

Knowledge of the United States

I am half American by birth, have spoken English all my life, and have extensive personal knowledge of American culture through my American family and regular visits since I was a child. I have travelled throughout much of the continental United States, with emphasis on the West and East Coast. In 1989-90 I did 12 months of anthropological fieldwork in San Francisco. After my return to Norway, I worked for the two remaining years of my grant as a scholarship student at the University of Oslo. My goal was to produce a comparative Dr. Philos. thesis based on this fieldwork and my Russian materials. The thesis was never completed, but parts of it may be read here.

Administrative and journalistic experience

In 1983-88 I was responsible for the practical organization and leadership of the interdisciplinary Norwegian Association for Soviet and East European Studies (Forum for Sovjet- og Øst-Europastudier) – a position entailing a wide range of responsibilities. In this period I also edited and was one of the main contributors to the Norwegian (later Nordic) journal of Soviet and East European Studies (Forum Øst, later Nordisk Øst-Forum) and of a Newsletter to members of the above association. During 1996 I was Head of the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Tromsø. While in Tromsø I also headed the Curriculum Review Board, which completely reformulated all curricula and course plans for all undergraduate and graduate studies at the Department. During my time at the Institute of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, I held various temporary offices: e.g. as IT and web coordinator, co-head of the Curriculum Review Board, and initiator of a major PR effort for the institute.

Experience as a translator and text worker

I was trained in the mid-1970's as an interpreter (Norwegian-Russian / Russian-Norwegian), but have not practiced as such for several decades. Later in the 1970's, I translated a short story and several poems (from Russian to Norwegian) that were published in anthologies (in part in cooperation with Astrid Bjønness). Throughout my academic career, I have translated and/or edited a considerable amount of academic work (including my own). My supervision of student work on all levels and participation in academic publications have given me very significant experience as a copy editor and general editor of texts. Since 2014, I have built up a small business as a freelance translator and text worker. For my main customers to date – Punkt Ø / Gallery F 15 (Jeløya / Moss) and The Development Fund (Oslo) – I have translated, edited, corrected and revised in considerable excess of 100 texts of widely differing character, length and difficulty. The most ambitious project to date – a reconstruction of the lost Norwegian version of James Joyce's letter to Ibsen on the occasion of his 73rd birthday – was shown at Gallery F 15 as a part pf the artist Dora Garcia's exhibition there in 2015.