Yuri Vella (1948-2013) was a well-known personality in Western Siberia’s indigenous world. Unlike most Western Siberia indigenous inhabitants, Yuri Vella was exceptionally skilled with words. He used words in everyday life in order to achieve his goals, among which the main one was to protect his kin and neighbours in the forest from the destructions induced by the oil industry. He was able to hold his own in discussion with the oil industry representatives and to have the last word with them. But how did Yuri Vella use words in private life? That is what months of fieldwork sharing the hut he lived in with his wife allowed me to ascertain. I shall concentrate on patterns of speaking - how? with whom? - and silence in everyday life, outside the attention of an audience. Or was my presence in the hut enough of an audience to change his patterns? These reflections are what this article is about.
In 16th-century Assam, Srimanta Sankaradeva (1449-1568) introduced a movement known as eka sarana nama dharma - a religion devoted to one God (Vishnu or Krishna). The focus of the movement was to introduce a new form of Vaishnava doctrine, dedicated to the reformation of society and to the abolition of practices such as animal sacrifice, goddess worship, and discrimination based on caste or religion. A new institutional order was conceptualised by Sankaradeva at that time for the betterment of human wellbeing, which was given shape by his chief disciple Madhavadeva. This came to be known as Sattra, a monastery-like religious and socio-cultural institution. Several Sattras were established by the disciples of Sankaradeva following his demise. Even though all Sattras derive from the broad tradition of Sankaradeva’s ideology, there is nevertheless some theological segmentation among different sects, and the manner of performing rituals differs from Sattra to Sattra. In this paper, my aim is to discuss the origin and subsequent transformations of Sattra as an institution. The article will also reflect upon the implication of traditions and of the process of traditionalisation in the context of Sattra culture. I will examine the power relations in Sattras: the influence of external forces and the support of locals to the Sattra authorities. This research is the result of various interactions and encounters in the field.
Traditionally, the curator’s work has been in close connection with the main functions of the museum - preservation, research, and communication. The changes that have occurred at museums over the past few decades have also influenced the profession of curator. Specialisation has taken place inside the museum, and so the curator’s functions have also changed. This article focuses on the curator’s field of work at national museums in Finland and in the Baltic states. The analysis is mainly based on interviews conducted with curators and other museum professionals at the Estonian National Museum, the Estonian History Museum, the National History Museum of Latvia, the National Museum of Lithuania, and the National Museum of Finland. Emanating from the PRC model provided by the Reinwardt Academy as well as the global changes induced by the new museology, the focus is on the curator’s connection with museum collections. The analysis shows that the curator’s role is not similar in all the museums under discussion; there are regional differences in structure, curatorial duties, and priorities. While at some museums the curator is regarded as a collection keeper who can also do some research, at others they are rather researchers and have only infrequent contact with collections.
In this article* I describe the process of developing of Mari ethnic religion based on the tradition of animistic beliefs. I aim to consider two areas of contemporary Mari religion, the activities of the official religious organisation and the vernacular tradition as practiced by people in the countryside. The Mari vernacular belief system has been seen as one of the components of Mari ethnic identity. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mari religious tradition has played a role in strengthening national identity, and so the religious organisation has been officially registered. Today there is an attempt to adapt Mari religious practices to the conditions of the religious market, in the face of which vernacular tradition seems to lose its connection with the ethnic worldview and rural way of life. My analysis of research material from fieldwork conducted shows the existence of belief rituals that are followed independently from the official Mari religious movement. Contemporary Mari religious tradition has two layers and can be described as a process of transformation from vernacular belief to ethnic religion with its religious institutions and group of experts.