Narrating the Future in Siberia

Narrating the Future in Siberia: Childhood, Adolescence and Autobiography among the Eveny

Olga Ulturgasheva
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 210
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qcgxv
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  • Book Info
    Narrating the Future in Siberia
    Book Description:

    The wider cultural universe of contemporary Eveny is a specific and revealing subset of post-Soviet society. From an anthropological perspective, the author seeks to reveal not only the Eveny cultural universe but also the universe of the children and adolescents within this universe. The first full-length ethnographic study among the adolescence of Siberian indigenous peoples, it presents the young people's narratives about their own future and shows how they form constructs of time, space, agency and personhood through the process of growing up and experiencing their social world. The study brings a new perspective to the anthropology of childhood and uncovers a quite unexpected dynamic in narrating and foreshadowing the future while relating it to cultural patterns of prediction and fulfillment in nomadic cosmology.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-767-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Characters
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    In 2003–2004 I conducted twelve months’ fieldwork studying ideas of their own future among young Eveny in the village of Topolinoye, in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in north-east Siberia (Figure 1), a village which has a population of seven hundred. While interviewing local children and adolescents on the matter of their future lives, I was particularly interested in how children’s and adolescents’ ideas about the future were shaped, what attitudes and expectations were generated under the conditions and situations contemporary children and adolescents had to face, and what choices they were likely to make in the future and why....

  6. Chapter 1 Future Autobiographies and Their Spaces
    (pp. 21-42)

    Before I embark on the discussion of Eveny children’s and adolescents’ ideas about their own future I would like to distinguish children who grew up in the forest from those who grew up in the village. This local dichotomy or divide between forest and village childhoods is to a great extent a legacy of Soviet organization of space and labour relations (Slezkine 1994; Ssorin-Chaikov 2003; Vitebsky 2005) which the local population, and specifically families of reindeer herders and their children, still have to deal with on a regular basis. Due to such spatial organization I shall build my analysis around...

  7. Chapter 2 Eveny Childhood and Adolescence
    (pp. 43-55)

    In this work I intend to reflect on the process of growing up among Eveny children and adolescents and show that their formative experiences are individually variable and yet are determined by certain social and environmental factors. The latter involve a particular set of aspects which revolve around such social domains as children’s and adolescents’ family histories, their relations to and perceptions of parents, growing up in a reindeer herding camp or growing up in the village, moving around the landscape with reindeer or remaining stationary in the village, going hunting for food or getting food products from the village...

  8. Chapter 3 Forest and Village
    (pp. 56-76)

    As I have noted above, the children’s stories repeatedly emphasize three social settings and three kinds of spaces around which young Eveny’s life-trajectories and their potential life-destinations revolve: the forest (i.e., living in nomadic reindeer herding camps), the village and the city. These three spaces are also reflected in the cosmology of future life-stories narrated by children and are continually reproduced in personal accounts of all generations of local Eveny.

    All three spaces of forest, village and city are mapped along the life-trajectory of a local person. In the life-story of a narrator one may identify his or her movements...

  9. Chapter 4 Three Future Autobiographies
    (pp. 77-108)

    In this chapter I shall look more closely at the future autobiographies of forest and village adolescents written and orally narrated by: Tonya, a forest girl; Vera, a village girl; and Grisha, a village boy. In order to complement the forest girl’s account and acquire gender balance I shall present a forest boy’s story in Chapter 5. Here I shall explore the adolescents’ experiences of growing up in the forest and the village and pay particular attention to how they narrate what they have experienced, how they draw their own past and present into their futures, and how their stories...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. Chapter 5 Reindeer and Child in the Forest Chronotope
    (pp. 109-130)

    By analysing stories narrated and written by young Eveny of various ages, I aim to show how the process of socialization among forest children and adolescents contributes to a particular construct of time and space, which I define as the forest chronotope. I draw on Bakhtin’s concept of chronotope – ‘the intrinsic connectedness of time and space’ (1981: 84) – within a narrative to map a child’s and adolescent’s imagined movements beyond present space and time to a better future.

    In my previous chapters I introduced the reindeer as the vital social and economic capital and central non-human component of the Eveny...

  12. Chapter 6 The Village as Domain of Unhappiness: Broken Families and the Curse of the GULAG
    (pp. 131-153)

    In this chapter I continue to explore the spatial opposition of ‘forest versus village’ in which the village serves as a hegemonic but problematic space within the cosmological triangle of city, village and forest established in Chapter 3. First, I show how a child’s relationship to a place finds expression through the event of seeing a ghost, which serves as a reminder of a sense of a locality and as a current enactment of local memories about the GULAG past. I then illustrate how a sense of place associated with a former territory of the GULAG camp, which is understood...

  13. Chapter 7 Cosmologies of the Future in the Shadow of Djuluchen
    (pp. 154-172)

    In my conclusion I would like to address the issues that have been raised in previous chapters and elaborate on what implications these have for understanding young Eveny’s experiences of childhood and adolescence, their future autobiographies and the category of person which underlies the senses of time, space and destiny invoked in the narratives of the children and adolescents. In Chapter 5, I established that the concept of a child in relation to a reindeer is an expression of personhood, and that forest children and adolescents draw from their relations to reindeer developmentally as they learn the sharing practices of...

  14. References
    (pp. 173-184)
  15. Index
    (pp. 185-192)