From “Clan” to Speech Community

Administrative Reforms, Territory, and Language as Factors of Identity Development among the Ilimpii Evenki in the Twentieth Century

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Abstract

This article deals with the relationships between identity, language, and “clan organization” among Ilimpii Evenki, and how these relationships formed and changed over the course of the twentieth century under the influence of Soviet nationalities policy, administrative reform, and local discursive practices. It is based on the author’s field materials collected in the period 2007 to 2012 in the Evenki Municipal District (Evenkia) of Krasnoiarskii Krai, as well as on unpublished sources stored in the archives of Tura (Evenkia), Krasnoiarsk, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. The central question under investigation deals with why the names of the former administrative clans of contemporary Ilimpii Evenki were used to label language communities; the results suggest that the main reasons were the specifics of the Soviet nationalities policy of the 1920s—which shaped the establishment of national regions on the basis of Evenki “clan” organization—as well the emergence of a new literary Evenki language and resettlement campaigns in the mid-twentieth century.

Contributor Notes

Nadezhda Mamontova has an MA in Altaic Studies and PhD (kandidat nauk) in Social Anthropology. She is a Research Fellow in the Ethnology Department of Moscow State University.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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  • AFD 2010: Author’s field data. Expedition to the Evenki Municipal District of Krasnoiarskii Krai with the project “Land Use and Ethnicity in the Circumpolar Region” (NSF, project director H. Beach): Tutonchany, Ilimpii settlement group.

  • AFD 2011: Author’s field data. Expedition to the Evenki Municipal District of Krasnoiarskii Krai with the project “Land Use and Ethnicity in the Circumpolar Region” (NSF, project director H. Beach) and the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences “Corpus Linguistics” (project director D. A. Funk): (a) Ekonda, Ilimpii group of settlements; (b) Chirinda, Ilimpii group of settlements.

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