Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay

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Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay
Photograph of Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay
Born (1846-07-17)July 17, 1846
Rozhdestvensk, Novgorod Oblast, Russian Empire
Died April 14, 1888(1888-04-14) (aged 41)
St Petersburg, Russian Empire
Residence Russian Empire, Australia, New Guinea and others
Nationality Russian Empire
Fields Ethnology, Anthropology, Biology
Alma mater Heidelberg University, Leipzig University, Jena University
Known for anthropological work in New Guinea and the Pacific
Influences Ernst Haeckel
Author abbreviation (botany) Mikl.-Maclay
Author abbreviation (zoology) Miklucho-Maclay

Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay (Russian: Николай Николаевич Миклухо-Маклай, Ukrainian: Микола Миколайович Миклухо-Маклай;[1] 1846–1888) was a Russian[2] explorer, ethnologist, anthropologist and biologist who became famous as the first scientist to settle among and study people who had never seen a white man.[3]

Miklouho-Maclay spent the major part of his life travelling and conducted scientific research in the Middle East, Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia and Polynesia. Australia, though, became his adopted country and Sydney the home town of his family.[4][5]

He became a prominent figure of nineteenth-century Australian science and became involved in significant issues of Australian and New Guinea history.[5] Writing letters to Australian papers, Miklouho-Maclay expressed his opposition to the labor and slave trade ("blackbirding") in Australia, New Caledonia and the Pacific, as well as his opposition to the British and German colonial expansion in New Guinea.[6] While in Australia, he built the first biological research station in the Southern Hemisphere, was elected to the Linnean Society of New South Wales, was instrumental in establishing the Australasian Biological Association, stayed at the elite Australian Club, became the intimate of the leading amateur scientist and political figure Sir William Macleay, and married the daughter of the Premier of New South Wales.[6] His three grandsons have all contributed to the public life of Australia.[5]

One of the earliest followers of Charles Darwin, Miklouho-Maclay is also remembered today as a humanist scholar who, on the basis of his comparative anatomical research, was one of the first anthropologists to refute the prevailing view that the different 'races' of mankind belonged to different species.

Ancestry and early years[edit]

Ernst Haeckel with his assistant, Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay, in the Canary Islands, 1866.

Miklouho-Maclay was born in a temporary workers camp in Novgorod Governorate (currently Okulovsky District of Novgorod Oblast) in Russia, a son of a civil engineer working on the construction of the Moscow-St. Petersburg Railway. His Ukrainian father was descended from Stepan Myklukha, a Zaporozhian Cossack, who was awarded the title of noble of the Empire by Catherine II for his military exploits during the Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792),[7] which included the capture of the Ochakov fortress.[8]

His mother, Ekaterina Semenovna, née Bekker, was of German and Polish descent (her three brothers took part in the January Uprising of 1863). After 1873, the Miklouho-Maclay family owned a country estate in Malyn, 150 kilometres (93 mi) northwest of Kiev.

Nicholas attended a German Lutheran school, a course at the Second St. Petersburg Gymnasium, but only spent two months at St. Petersburg University, due to being expelled and debarred from tertiary education in Imperial Russia for "breaking the rules".[3] He thus had to complete his studies in German universities and this provided an opportunity to study and to work with leading European scientists. He studied humanities at Heidelberg, medicine at Leipzig, and zoology at the University of Jena, where he came under the influence of the great German scholar Ernst Haeckel, who had a profound influence on his future.[6]

Miklouho-Maclay's brilliant student records attracted the attention of Haeckel, who made him his assistant as part of a field expedition to the Canary Islands in 1866. There Miklouho-Maclay took an interest in sharks and sponges and discovered a new sponge species, which he named Guancha blanca, in tribute to the Guanches, the original Berber inhabitants of the Canary Islands.[4] He also became a close friend of the biologist Anton Dohrn, with whom he helped conceive the idea of research stations while staying with him at Messina, Italy.[3]

Australia[edit]

The Marine Biological Station (centre of photo) at Watson's Bay circa 1881.
Miklouho-Maclay, ca. 1880 in Queensland, Australia. A typically posed shot from the period to emphasize the "explorer" persona — note the Eucalyptus leaves, and explorer "tools".

Miklouho-Maclay left St Petersburg for Australia on the steam corvette Vityaz. He arrived in Sydney on 18 July 1878. A few days after arriving, he approached the Linnean Society and offered to organise a zoological centre. In September 1878 his offer was approved. The centre, known as the Marine Biological Station, was constructed by prominent Sydney architect, John Kirkpatrick. This facility, located in Watsons Bay on the east side of the Greater Sydney, was the first marine biological research institute in Australia.[9] He married Margaret-Emma Robertson, daughter of the Premier of New South Wales, John Robertson.

Anthropological work in New Guinea and the Pacific[edit]

He visited north-eastern New Guinea, Philippines and Indonesia on a number of occasions, and lived amongst the native tribes, writing a comprehensive treatise on their way of life and customs.[10]

Humanist views[edit]

In scientific and anthropological circles during the 1850s and 1860s there was much discussion connected with the study of human races and the interpretation of racial peculiarities. There were some anthropologists like Samuel Morton, who tried to prove that not all human races are of equal worth, and that "white people" are predestined by "natural selection" to rule over the "coloured" races. This attitude was used to justify slavery and colonialism.[11]

Scientists like Ernst Haeckel, a teacher of the young Miklouho-Maclay, relegated what they regarded as culturally "backward" people like Papuans, Bushmen and others to the role of 'intermediate links' between Europeans and their animal ancestors. While adhering to Darwin's theory of evolution, Miklouho-Maclay diverged from these racist concepts, and it was this question that led Miklouho-Maclay to gather scientific facts and to study the dark-skinned inhabitants of New Guinea. On the basis of his comparative anatomical research, Miklouho-Maclay was one of first anthropologists to refute polygenism and scientific racism, the view that the different races of mankind belonged to different species and that some human races were inferior.[5][11]

You were the first to demonstrate beyond question by your experience that man is man everywhere, that is, a kind, sociable being with whom communication can and should be established through kindness and truth, not guns and spirits. I do not know what contribution your collections and discoveries will make to the science for which you serve, but your experience of contacting the primitive peoples will make an epoch in the science for which I serve i. e. the science which teaches how human beings should live with one another.

Leo Tolstoy, to N. N. Miklhouho-Maclay, September 1886[12]

Opposition to slavery[edit]

The humanists views of Miklouho-Maclay led him to actively campaign against the slave trade and blackbirding, carried on between the islands of Melanesia and plantations in Queensland, Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia.[3] In November 1878 the Dutch government informed him that on his recommendations it was checking the slave traffic at Ternate and Tidore. From 1879 onwards he wrote a number of letters to Australian papers, and corresponded with Sir Arthur Gordon, High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, on protecting the land rights of his friends on the Maclay Coast, and ending the traffic in arms and intoxicants in the South Pacific.[13]

Ill-health and death in Russia[edit]

In 1887 he left Australia and returned to St Petersburg to present his work to the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, taking his young family with him. Miklouho-Maclay was in poor health at this time and it was a trip from which he did not return. Despite treatment from Sergei Botkin, Miklouho-Maclay died of an undiagnosed brain tumour, aged 42, in St Petersburg. He was buried in the Volkovo Cemetery, and left his skull to the St Petersburg Military and Medical Academy.

Post-death[edit]

Miklouho-Maclay's widow returned to Sydney with their children. Until 1917 the scientist's family received a Russian pension. The money was first allocated by Alexander III and then by Nicholas II. One of his sons, Alexander, married a daughter of R. E. O'Connor.

Commemoration[edit]

Internationally[edit]

Miklouho-Maclay is commemorated in the scientific name of the New Guinea tree species Pouteria maclayana,[14] in the banana species Musa maclayi,[15] and in the land snail species Canefriula maclayiana[16] which where among some of the species he discovered.

The asteroid 3196 Maklaj, discovered in 1978, was named in his honour.[17]

Maklaj is the basis of the main character in the Esperanto historical novel "Sed Nur Fragmento" by Trevor Steele.

Australia[edit]

Bust of Miklouho-Maclay, Macleay Museum at University of Sydney.

The Marine Biological Station in Watson's Bay, built and used by Miklouho-Maclay was commandeered by the Ministry of Defence in 1899 as a barracks for officers. In the 1980s the Miklouho-Maclay Society unsuccessfully lobbied for the centre to be made into a historical landmark in memory of Miklouho-Maclay's scientific work. Today, although owned by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the building is used as a private residence and only open to the public on special occasions.[18]

The Miklouho-Maclay Society succeeded in naming a park in his honor in Snails Bay (Birchgrove), not far from where the house where he lived in Sydney for a time.[19][20][21][22][23]

A bust of Miklouho-Maclay was unveiled in front of the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney to commemorate 150 years of his death.[5] The Macleay Miklouho-Maclay Fellowship is available from the University of Sydney[12] each year.

Indonesia[edit]

A monument to Miklouho-Maclay was unveiled in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 3, 2011.

Papua New Guinea[edit]

Monument to Miklouho-Maclay in New Guinea

The Maclay Coast (ru:Берег Маклая), which Miklouho-Maclay named, is still used as the name for the North-east coast of Papua New Guinea.[24] The Maclay Coast is defined by Miklouho-Maclay as extending for 150 miles between Cape Croisilles and Cape King William, and 30–50 miles inland to the mountains of Mana-Boro-Boro (Finisterre Mountains).[13][25]

In Madang, Papua New Guinea — not far from where the explorer stayed in the 1870s — a street has been named after him.[26]

In 2000, a monument was erected in New Guinea by Oleg Aliev.[citation needed]

Russia[edit]

In Russia there is an Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology and a street in South-West Moscow (where the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia is situated)[27] named in his honor. The district museum in Okulovka, Novgorod Oblast, is named after him.[28]

A Khabarov class river passenger ship was named after him. Based at Khabarovsk, it was used on the Amur River between the 1960s and 1990s.

Ukraine[edit]

Monument to Miklouho-Maclay in Malyn, Ukraine.

A monument to Miklouho-Maclay is erected in Malyn, Ukraine, where his family owned a country estate. There is also a bust of him in Sevastopol, Ukraine.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ English variations of his name include: Nicolai Nicolaevich de Miklouho-Maclay 1,2, Baron de Miklouho-Maklai which he used in letter writing, and others. In scientific literature, especially where he discovered sponge species, his surname is cited as Miklucho-Maclay.
  2. ^ A Noble Cause: the Life and Work of Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888) Sydney University Museums-The University of Sydney
  3. ^ a b c d Webster, E. M. (1984). The Moon Man: A Biography of Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay. University of California Press, Berkeley. 421 pages. ISBN 0-520-05435-0
  4. ^ a b Wongar, B., Commentary and Translator's Note in Miklouho-Maclay, N. N. The New Guinea Diaries 1871-1183, translated by B. Wonger, Dingo Books, Victoria, Australia ISBN 978-0-9775078-1-8
  5. ^ a b c d e Shnukal, A. (1998), 'N. N. Miklouho-Maclay in Torres Strait', Australian Aboriginal Studies, Vol. 1998, 1998)
  6. ^ a b c Peter Lawrence, review of the "Moon Man" by Webster, E. in the Journal of Polynesian Studies, Volume 95, No. 4, 1986 p 537-542
  7. ^ Thomassen, E. S. (1882), A Biographical Sketch of Nicholas de Miklouho Maclay the Explorer, Brisbane. Document held in the State Library of New South Wales
  8. ^ «Mr. E. S. Thomassen» // «The Argus», Monday 27 March 1882, p. 6
  9. ^ Marine Biological Station (former)
  10. ^ Robertson Wentworth de Maclay, "Mikluho-Maklai, Nicholai Nicholaievich (1846–1888)" in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  11. ^ a b Turmarkin, D. "Miklouho-Maclay" in Rain, the journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 51 (Aug., 1982), pp. 4-7
  12. ^ a b Macleay Miklouho-Maclay Fellowship
  13. ^ a b "Baron Maclay and the New Guinea Natives.". The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864–1933) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 27 November 1883. p. 5. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Miklucho-Maclay, Nikolaj Nikolajewitsch National Herbarium, Netherlands
  15. ^ Ploetz, R. et al "Banana and plantain—an overview with emphasis on Pacific island cultivars", Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry (www.traditionaltree.org) February 2007 ver.1, p.3
  16. ^ J. Brazier, 'New species of land and freshwater mollusca from Maclay-Coast and Triton Bay, New Guinea, collected by Baron Maclay', in The Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales Vol. X 1885, p. 842
  17. ^ Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, Lutz Schmadel (ed.) available online at www.springerreference.com
  18. ^ "Marine Biological Station". Sydney Harbour Federation Trust. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  19. ^ "Miklouho-Maclay Park". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. 
  20. ^ "Multicultural Place Names in New South Wales". Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. March 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  21. ^ "Memorial Plaques in Leichhardt Municipality". Heritage Group of Leichhardt District Heritage Group of Leichhardt District. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Birchgrove Park, Leichhardt Municipal Council 2010
  23. ^ Location of Miklouho-Maclay Park in Birchgrove
  24. ^ Maclay Coast, Papua New Guinea on Google Maps.
  25. ^ Maclay, N. de Miklouho, 1885. — "Notes on Zoology of the Maclay Coast in New Guinea", in Proc. Linn. Soc. NSW, 9:713
  26. ^ Ogloblin (1998), p. 487.
  27. ^ Miklouho-Maclay street, Moscow on Google Maps
  28. ^ "Районный краеведческий музей им. Н. Н. Миклухо-Маклая" (in Russian). Комитет по делам молодежи, культуры и туризма Администрации Окуловского муниципального района. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  29. ^ "Author Query for 'Mikl.-Maclay'". International Plant Names Index. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]