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Open access

Reinventing a Traditional Ritual

Commemorating Karbala's Youngest Martyr in Iran

Atefeh Seyed Mousavi

Abstract

This article explores recent ritual developments in the Iranian religious culture honouring Ali-Asqar (d. 680 CE), the infant son of Imam Husayn. In 2003, a new ritual, the Husayni Infancy Conference, was introduced. The ritual is the only public Muharram assembly dedicated to women and their infants. Based on observation and interviews, I identify ritual transformations, terms of institutionalisation, and the staging of rituals and their structure, and I also examine the objectives behind the Conference from the perspectives of the organisers and participants. I argue that the organisers seek to promote new interpretations of the significance of the Battle of Karbala. This objective is shared by some participants whereas many continue to seek out traditional reasons to commemorate the Battle, such as receiving God's blessings. Attending large ritual gatherings also offers opportunities for socialising and empowerment.

Open access

Reports

Publications

Rose Wellman and Max Klimburg

Marjo Buitelaar, Manja Stephan-Emmrich and Viola Thimm (eds), Muslim Women's Pilgrimage to Mecca and Beyond: Reconfiguring Gender, Religion, and Mobility (London: Routledge, 2021), 213 pp.

Erika Friedl, Religion and Daily Life in the Mountains of Iran: Theology, Saints, People (London: I.B. Tauris, 2021), xix + 178 pp.

Open access

Tuvan Autogenic Geological Terms and a Short Russian-Tuvan-English Geological Dictionary

A. A. Mongush

Abstract

This short dictionary is the first attempt to systematize information about the Tuvan names of things and phenomena related to geology, mining, and resources obtained after processing of mineral raw materials. Here we find a very brief Russian-Tuvan geological dictionary containing 131 terms, of which 49 terms are proposed for use for the first time, including 16 terms as additional to those already available in the above dictionaries. In the brief Russian-Tuvan-English geological dictionary, terms related to chemical elements account for about 8 percent of their total amount, to metals and their alloys about 15 percent, to minerals about 15 percent, to mineral aggregates, rocks, and ores about 42 percent, and to other terms about 20 percent. The 11 chemical elements consist of ten metals and one nonmetal.

Open access

Book Review

Book Review

Shelly Volsche

Nomadic Pastoralism among the Mongol Herders: Multispecies and Spatial Ethnography in Mongolia and Transbaikalia Charlotte Marchina Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021, 178pp., 34 figures (incl. maps), 14 photographs (B+W). ($101.03 / €89). ISBN: 978-94-6372-142-4.

Open access

The Boundaries of Eurasia

Dividing Lands, Minds, and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century Siberia

Henry Jennings

Abstract

During the eighteenth century, Western European travelers enjoyed unprecedented access to Siberia and many of those who visited believed themselves to have observed a clear boundary between Europe and Asia. This article examines the books of eight such travelers and explores how they categorized those living in Siberia into one of two categories, European or Asian. These travelers interpreted their observations in ways that led them to conclude that a clear binary division existed in the region, separating the European Russian settlers and government from the Asiatic indigenous peoples. Presenting their work as new information, they reproduced older categorizations, repackaged within the scientific language of the Enlightenment.

Open access

Livestock Dung Use in Steppe Pastoralism

Renewable Resources, Care, and Respect for Sentient Nonhumans

Victoria Soyan Peemot

Abstract

This article studies the use of livestock dung in the social and ecological context of pastoralism in the Tyva Republic, Inner Asia. In steppe ecologies, livestock dung, depending on its (mis)management, can be a valuable resource or a threat to animals’ health and herders’ well-being. Its use is embedded in the relationships between herder-livestock communities and landscapes, which are sentient and superordinate. Utilizing dung for household needs is simultaneously a form of care for livestock and a method of balancing the relationship with sentient homelands.

Open access

Prospects of Development for Urban Areas in the Russian Arctic

Igor Popov

Abstract

The development of the Arctic was an important political and economic topic of the Soviet Union. This urbanization activity declined dramatically in the economic and political chaos of the 1990s, although some positive transformations have been seen in the new millennium. This article examines whether the colonization of the Russian Arctic will follow Soviet-era plans or the region will remain scarcely populated in the near future. The history and methods of urbanization in the Russian Arctic have been analyzed in order to better shed light on this question.

Open access

Revisitations

Jenanne Ferguson

It is often challenging to find the strands that connect articles in a given issue of a small yet heavily interdisciplinary regional studies journal. Yet I often marvel at how certain themes emerge time and time again. This issue is random at first glance; the topics are individually diverse when compared, but it is mostly their perennially significant nature within our region that makes them similar. Therefore, in this first issue of Sibirica's twenty-first volume, I found that a theme of revisiting (and rethinking) came to the fore. The four articles included here all revisit key themes in Siberian studies—from human-animal interconnectedness and bear ceremonialism to state-instituted identity categories and urbanization—from fresh perspectives.

Open access

Valuing Difference

Bear Ceremonialism, the Eastern Khanty, and Cultural Variation among Ob-Ugrians

Andrew Wiget and Olga Balalaeva

Abstract

This article draws on a large archive of original video documentation to complement ethnographic literature to provide the first description of modern Eastern Khanty bear ceremonialism and locate it in relation to the traditions of other Ob-Ugrian groups. The comparative analysis of Ob-Ugrian bear ceremonial traditions underscores fundamental differences in the function of such ceremonies, highlights foundational elements of local group identity, and suggests ways in which Ob-Ugrian groups interacted with adjacent populations.

Open access

Manly Merchants

Commerce, Mobility and Masculinity among Afghan Traders in Eurasia

Magnus Marsden

Abstract

This article explores intersections between masculinity, mobility, generation and commerce through the everyday lives of Afghan men who make up trading networks that are active across Eurasia. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork among Afghan traders in Ukraine's port city of Odessa and in the international trading city of Yiwu in China. Building on recent work in anthropology concerning the ‘emergent’ nature of Middle Eastern masculinities, the article brings attention to the flexible and adaptable nature of the notions of masculinity held and performed by mobile Afghan traders. It emphasises the need for such conceptions of masculinity to be treated historically and draws attention to the forms of caregiving that are especially important to the traders’ intimate lives and self-understandings. The article also highlights the significance of complex notions of trust both to the traders’ articulation of conceptions of manliness and to their everyday modes of securing a livelihood.