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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.

Open access

Jenanne Ferguson

The three articles featured in this issue may not appear to be related, but within their varying contexts, I found myself teasing out several chords that resonate throughout them, and one, in particular, struck me as notable. Directly or indirectly, these articles (as well as the report) all address the notion of problem-solving in some shape or form. Whether a historical account of protest as an attempt to solve issues of discontent among fur trade workers in Russian America, approaches to discussing climate change in northeastern Siberia, coping with failing infrastructure and the negotiation of corporate versus state responsibility—or dealing with COVID lockdowns and scholarly knowledge exchange at present—the articles in this issue all explore the confrontation of problems and how they might be solved.

Open access

Jenanne Ferguson

Mixed Messages: Mediating Native Belonging in Asian Russia Kathryn E. Graber (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2020), 262 pp. ISBN13: 9781501750519 (paperback).

Open access

Jenanne Ferguson

In going over submissions to Sibirica at the beginning of 2021, I found several articles related to culture and history in the Sakha Republic. Naturally, I thought it would be illuminating to bring them together to see how they might complement each other. Although this is not a typical special issue with a planned overarching theme, I found that these articles are not only geographically united but subtly reflective of broad underlying concerns—the revitalization and continuity of culture, and the agency of minoritized and indigenous peoples in striving for self-definition and survival. This issue is a way of “checking in” on the state of some of the diverse scholarly work happening in and on Sakha (Yakutia) in recent months and years—from the perspectives of researchers in anthropology, literary studies, history, and art history and criticism.

Open access

Jenanne Ferguson

Open access

Jenanne Ferguson

The three articles that comprise this issue of Sibirica engage with the complexities of dialogic relationships to place. What do people bring to a place? What does place catalyze for people? The authors come from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and bring disparate frameworks from human geography, cultural anthropology, and philosophy; in each article, they engage with both the immediate present and the broader arc of time and reflect on the pragmatic and practical dimensions of relationships with a place to those more spiritual and ineffable.

Open access

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.

Free access

Jenanne Ferguson

Once again, this issue of Sibirica is diverse and disparate. We move from understanding food security as a laboratory in the northern districts of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) all the way to a brief yet trilingual Tuvan geological glossary, with stops along the way to learn about an influential yet little-known Buryat activist, as well as cultural developments in Magadan in the 1950s and 1960s. However, what unites these varied pieces is a central theme of creativity, and the effects of approaching problems with fresh eyes and new ideas even amid restrictive conditions or systems—whether political or infrastructural.

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The Socio-Demographic Situation in the Republic of Tuva

Conditions of Social Transformation, 1990s–early 2000s

Zoya Dorzhu

Translator : Jenanne Ferguson

Abstract

Based on a comprehensive analysis of census data, this article examines social and demographic development in one of the youngest regions of Russian Federation, the Republic of Tuva, at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. The given statistics provide the characteristics of the quantitative and qualitative changes in the population, and the socioeconomic conditionality and the laws of its reproduction are analyzed in order to reveal various issues in the implementation of social policy in modern Russia and its regions.

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Akulina Mestnikova

Translator : Jenanne K. Ferguson

Abstract

The article provides an overview of recent initiatives spearheaded by indigenous peoples in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) that seek to improve the existing language policy put forth by the state government. Although there has been some research conducted on the activities of public organizations and associations of indigenous peoples in the region, more must be done to better understand activities specifically related to language policy. The article presents a history of indigenous and minority organizing in the republic since the end of the Soviet era, with special attention paid to the campaigns regarding the status of native language and its presence within the educational sphere. It then analyzes the results of a 2011 sociological study regarding people’s beliefs about responsibility for native language maintenance and revitalization.