From “Clan” to Speech Community

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

in Sibirica
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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collected in the period 2007 to 2012 in the Evenki Municipal District (Evenkia) of Krasnoiarskii Krai, as well as on unpublished sources stored in the archives of Tura (Evenkia), Krasnoiarsk, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.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.


Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies