AbstractAn overview of trends in Russian academic ethnology over the past three decades is provided. This is an analysis of the state of the discipline from the inside, from the point of view of the author, who has been at the center of the scientific and public life of the country for all these years and who, as the director of the RAS Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, influenced academic strategy and institutional changes. This is also a view on Russian national ethnology in the context of epistemological shifts and disciplinary changes that have taken place in world sociocultural anthropology and ethnology. The main provisions of this article concern intradisciplinary inertia and the difficult revision of the Soviet legacy; the restrictive impact of dominant public practices on the choice of metatheoretical constructs such as social constructivism in culturally complex societies; the influence of the ideology and practice of ethno-nationalism on the scientific community and the resultant “postcolonial” or aboriginal anthropology; and the combination of ethnographic tradition and new directions in the search for cultural similarities as the antithesis to the traditional obsession with establishing differences. The article analyzes the nation-building project based on a multiethnic civil nation as one of the prospects for the anthropological vision of Russia and the place of scientists in this project. The author evaluates the post-Soviet period as one of the most fruitful in the history of Russian ethnology in terms of the formation of new trends, thematic repertoire, and geography of research.