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Beyond Belief?

Social, Political, and Shamanic Power in Siberia

Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer

An analysis of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in the Russian Federation reveals a variety of village and urban reactions to crises of faith and power. The significance for group identity and instances of synergistic group belief are discussed. The transition that has seen amorphous underground shamanic practice lead to the institutionalization of shamanic cosmology is reflected in the recent opening of a temple in the Republic's capital, Yakutsk, and in the various groups that adhere to charismatic healers and seers. Debates about faith, as well as fragmented faith epistemologies, are described. The data derive from over 25 years of intermittent fieldwork in the Republic and with the Sakha diaspora. My approach is situated at the crossroads of medical-psychological anthropology, political anthropology, and new religious movement analysis.

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Angelina Lukina

Translator : Tatiana Argounova-Low

For the Yakut 1 people residing in the region of Sakha (Yakutia), 2 northeastern Siberia, dances have always been a constituent and important part of their tradition and believed to have magical potency. Dances also represented a certain worldview

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Zoya Tarasova

Sakha epic songs, collectively called olongkho, embody the Sakha people's religious and mythological traditions. The olongkhos recount fascinating and dramatic connections between humans and deities, and portray ancient Sakha rituals. This article examines the roles of female characters in the epic "N'urgun Bootur the Swift," recorded by Platon Oiunskii. Female roles in this epic include goddesses, female shamans (udaghan), abducted beauties (bride or sister of the hero), and female warriors. The article compares these roles to the historical image of women in past and present Sakha culture, and interprets the underlying message of the olongkho for today's generation.

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Vera Kuklina, Sargylana Ignatieva, and Uliana Vinokurova

This article explores the role of higher education institutions in the development of indigenous cultures in the Arctic city of Yakutsk. Although indigenous cultures have historically been related to traditional subsistence activities and a rural lifestyle, the growing urbanization of indigenous people brings new challenges and opportunities. The article draws on statistical data, as well as qualitative data from the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Peoples of the Northeast (ILCPN) at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) and the Arctic State Institute of Culture and Arts (AGIKI): annual reports, focus groups, interviews, and participant observations. The article argues that students and graduates contribute to the creation of a new image of the city as one in which indigenous cultures can find their own niche.

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Sensory Perception of Rock Art in East Siberia and the Far East

Soviet Archeological “Discoveries” and Indigenous Evenkis

Donatas Brandišauskas

whole up to the present time ( Brandišauskas 2017 ). 1 These sites can be seen as being linked to the ideas of animism as well as human interactions with spirits and animals (see Brandišauskas 2011 ). During my field research in the Republic of Sakha

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“Is It Bad That We Try to Speak Two Languages?”

Language Ideologies and Choices among Urban Sakha Bilingual Families

Jenanne Ferguson

This article discusses urban ethnic Sakha bilinguals and their language ideologies and choices, especially with regard to the language socialization of their children—both at home and within the educational system. The usage of the Sakha language within urban spaces has been on the rise in the post-Soviet years, but still tends to be acquired in the home environment as a first language, whereas Russian is acquired later in the public sphere and reinforced in the educational system. The article explores some of the ideological and structural barriers toward Sakha acquisition and maintenance that speakers face, with apprehension regarding bilingualism and the mastery of two languages in educational contexts being a key concern for many Sakha parents. The article also discusses language instruction—especially in schools—in light of the need to begin to accommodate those with little or no Sakha knowledge in order to continue to increase the usage of Sakha by urban speakers.

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Transformation, Post-Modernism, and Community

The Case of Sakha (Iakutiia)

Tatiana Argounova-Low

This issue of Sibirica focuses on one of the Siberian regions—The Republic of Sakha (Iakutiia). This in-depth presentation has two main goals: we hope to provide the readers with a more detailed look into the current situation in the republic and to start a new initiative of the journal to take close-up looks at various Siberian regions. For Siberian studies Sakha represents an interesting case: on the one hand, its experience and developments are unique, its recent political and economic changes are setting an example of potential way to devolution; on the other hand, the republic’s experiences are typical of those in any other Siberian peripheral region.

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Local legacies of the GULag in Siberia

Anthropological reflections

Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer

This essay, based on field notes from 1976 to 2013, explores resonances of the GULag and exile system in Siberia, focusing on often ignored indigenous peoples in villages and towns. Interethnic relations, diverse community relationships with prison camps, and dynamics of Russian Orthodox and pre-Christian spirituality are explored. Debates about how to understand, teach, and memorialize the significance of the Stalinist system are analyzed, as are issues of shame, moral debilitation, and cultural revitalization. Featured cases include the Khanty of West Siberia, Sibiriaki of West and East Siberia, plus Éveny, Évenki, Yukagir, and Sakha of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). The author argues that what local people have chosen to emphasize as they reflect on and process the GULag varies greatly with their and their ancestors' specific experiences of the camps and exiles, as well as with their degrees of indigeneity.

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Anna Edmundson, Margo Neale, Michèle Rivet, Brett Mason, Katie Kyung, Rebecca Gibson, Alison K. Brown, Tatiana Argounova-Low, Maria Lucia de Niemeyer Matheus Loureiro, Charlotte Hyltén-Cavallius, and Fredrik Svanberg

MEETING REPORTS

Return of the Native: Contestation, Collaboration, and Co-authorship in Museum Spaces, Australian National University, 18–19 June 2015

Access Is a Human Right: The Federation of International Human Rights Museums Conference, Te Papa, Wellington, 23–25 September 2015

PROJECT REPORTS

Narrative Objects: The Sakha Summer Festival and Cultural Revitalization

Object, Document, and Materiality: Outline of an Ongoing Research Project

Museums Beyond Homogeneity: Museums and Diversity in Sweden

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Natsionalizm

Enemies and Scapegoats

Tatiana Argounova-Low

This article is about natsionalizm as an instrumental concept used manipulatively in the Soviet state by the ruling elite. It argues that accusations of natsionalizm in the Soviet Union served a particular purpose of manipulation and punishment. An instrumental character of accusations turned the victims into enemies and sacrificial scapegoats in order to prove the righteousness of the Soviet society. This article uses case studies from the recent history of one of the Russian republics, Republic of Sakha (Iakutiia).