Memory and forgetting among the Nivkhi of Sakhalin Island
Grant, Bruce M.
Marcus, George E.
Doctor of Philosophy
On the basis of field and archival research on Sakhalin Island, and in Moscow, Tomsk and St. Petersburg, conducted over a twenty-four month period between 1989 and 1992, this project offers ethnographic and historical accounts of the production of Soviet culture among a Siberian indigenous people, the Nivkhi. Through Nivkh oral accounts, archival documents, as well as Russian and Soviet ethnographic sources, the dissertation charts a dramatic series of policy shifts in the governance of Nivkh life in the twentieth century, shifts which were in effect organized state campaigns of cultural invention and cultural erasure. By highlighting two dominant and often contradictory streams of official state narratives which counterposed Siberian indigenous peoples as being both children of nature and the most authentic of modern proletarians, the dissertation finds a population in late perestroika whose own views of Nivkh culture were largely underwritten by statist interpretations. The project argues for a closer reading of the nature of Soviet cultural construction than is often found in writings on Soviet nationality policies, and of the very hybrid identities which the Soviet period, and now the post-Soviet period, have produced.
Cultural anthropology; Modern history; Sociology; Ethnic studies