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Evenki Adolescents’ Identities

Negotiating the Modern and the Traditional in Educational Settings

Svetlana Huusko

Abstract

Young Evenkis grow up in the middle of powerful colonial representations of their culture, community, and history. These are constructed in and disseminated through popular oral culture, education, museums, and shape both Russian ideas of Evenkis and the self-identity of the indigenous youth. This article discusses how the Evenki adolescents construct their personal identities and negotiate with dominant representations of Evenkiness within educational settings in Russia. When the indigenous culture is represented as locked in the past, the adolescents, while identifying themselves as indigenous, view themselves outside the culture. Fieldwork results show how the local approach to understanding “tradition” and “modernity” leads to the marginalization of indigenous culture and to assimilation among Evenki adolescents in Buriatiia, Russia.

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Svetlana Huusko

Abstract

This article focuses on the representations of Evenkis and their culture in a local museum in Nizhneangarsk, Russia. The article uses the elements of critical discourse analysis to highlight the interplay between the real, imaginary, and ideological. The article explores how museum representations of the Evenkis and the Evenki culture create the ideological construction of the nature of the Evenkis and reproduce ethnic hierarchies in the region. The article examines the discursive strategies, rhetoric and meaning of texts, and the events presented by the museum's exhibitions. The article shows how the museum creates the nature of the Evenkis as external others, primitive folk, in contrast to the Evenkis as internal others, citizens of the contemporary Russian society, in its attempts to shape local identities.