To the question "What is ethnology?" ethnologists often have to answer, but it is not easy at all, because on the one hand it is quite specific, and on the other hand it is an extremely wide range of disciplines - it is possible to find an ethnological perspective in every area of life. In an attempt to provide the most general answer to this, it can be said that ethnology primarily involves the study of the creation and re-creation of culture, with the main focus on man as the creator and carrier of culture. The ethnologist explores and interprets all sorts of cultural elements, both his own and the stranger's, as "you", from Soviet toys to the religious life of the Nenets.
The profession of ethnologist is both difficult and grateful, because at first glance, the common man is found behind the exotic, the foreign, or the “other”; a whole new world is found beneath the seemingly clear and familiar surface of their culture. Or, as Clifford Geertz, one of America's leading cultural anthropologists put it, “Anthropology is only the study of seemingly customs, beliefs, or institutions. It is essentially a study of ways of thinking. ”
Ethnologists are the focus of all the nations of the world, and many of them are today threatened politically, linguistically, culturally and existentially. We want to know something about a person who is considered a "second" in all the areas mentioned, a stranger who does not take one step with us in a certain line of the "First".
(Art Leete, Maarja Kaaristo, “Letter Sphere”, Sirp 09.06.06)