Kerstin Eidlitz Kuoljok was an ethnologist and an author who specialised in the traditional cultures of Siberia and northern Russia. Her knowledge of the Russian language meant that for several decades she served as an intermediary of knowledge based on Russian-language research.
Kerstin Eidlitz Kuoljok was born in Stockholm in 1935. She was the twelfth child in a family of 14 siblings. Her father was a tailor. She adopted the name Eidlitz when she married Günther Eidlitz, a consultant. In 1969 she defended her thesis at Uppsala University. Her thesis was entitled Food and Emergency Food in the Circumpolar Area. She published a popular science version of her work in Swedish two years later, entitled Föda och nödföda. Hur människan använde vildmarkens tillgångar. She then became a docent at Uppsala University.
In the early 1970s Kerstin Eidlitz Kuoljok moved to Jokkmokk on the occasion of her second marriage to the reindeer herder Petter Erik Kuoljok.
Kerstin Eidlitz Kuoljok was her published name. She wrote about ten books on the people of the North, eastern Sami culture in Russia, the northern Samoyedic peoples, and the celestial reindeer myths of the Sami on the Kola Peninsula. Thanks to her knowledge of the Russian language she could access material which other Western researchers were not familiar with. She was critical of established researchers within the sphere of ethnology and religious studies who wrote about the Sami from an outside perspective without making use of Russian archival material. Some of the books she published in the later period of her academic career include Den samiska sitan och vinterbyarna. En utmaning, 2011, and Bilden av universum bland folken in norr, 2009. The former took a critical view of the geographer and geologist Väino Tanner’s influential 1929 book Skoltlapparna. Whilst Tanner claims that sitan, or siidan, is an ancient Sami phenomenon, Kerstin Eidlitz Kuoljok highlights that this is not the case, and that the sitan system (which refers to a type of Sami village) came about as a result of Russian state interference.
Apart from research visits to Moscow, Kerstin Eidlitz Kuoljok lived in Jokkmokk until her death at the age of 80. She died in January 2016, and was survived by her three daughters.