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Title: Negotiating belonging : ritual, performance and Buriat national culture in Pribaikal'e, Southern Siberia
Author: Long, Joseph Jude
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 7202
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis explores the relationship between shamanist ritual in Buriat communities in Pribaikal’e and the institutionalised Buriat national culture that was developed by the Soviet state and persists to this day. In Pribaikal’e, I suggest that a local sense of belonging is constituted through rites held at a clan’s ancestral hearth. I characterise these rituals as a communion between corporeal kinsmen and incorporeal spirits, emphasising commensality and communitas as a means of cementing kinship. Meanwhile, belonging to national and civic territories is underpinned by performing arts developed under Soviet rule, often adapted from ritual forms. In analysing how some of these different senses of belonging are constituted, I propose a broad distinction between ‘inward-facing’ ritual forms and ‘outward-facing’ forms that are placed in what Goffman (1975) calls ‘the theatrical frame’. I suggest, however, that in both kinds of form elements of ‘performativity’ and ‘ritualisation’ (Rostas 1998) can be discerned as modes of action through which senses of belonging are constituted and asserted. In contemporary Russia, the state is moving away from a model of federalism that incorporates national territorial autonomy and instead promotes ‘cultural autonomy’. As a result, two political territories in Pribaikal’e, Ust’-Orda Buriat Autonomous Okrug and the surrounding Irkutsk Oblast, have been unified. In a context where Buriat national culture no longer presupposes belonging to national territory, more localised expressions of belonging are being brought into public view. These include large-scale communion rites and public rituals that utilise the presentational conventions of Buriat national culture. The public framing of rites asserts local Buriats’ sense of belonging to their ancestral homelands and the authority of Buriat shamans to mediate with spirits on behalf of the Pribaikal’e.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Buriats ; Ethnology ; Shamanism ; Siberia (Russia)