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Galvanizing Nostalgia?Indigeneity and Sovereignty in Siberia$
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Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer

Print publication date: 2022

Print ISBN-13: 9781501759772

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2022

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501759772.001.0001

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Republic of Buryatia

Republic of Buryatia

Gerrymandered and Struggling

(p.61) 2 Republic of Buryatia
Galvanizing Nostalgia?

Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer

Cornell University Press

This chapter begins by looking at historical boundaries, demographic legacies, and the geopolitics of Buryatia's location on the border with Mongolia. The splintering of Buryat identities has occurred on numerous fronts, beginning with difficulties of maintaining the Buryat language in a multiethnic and demographically divided homeland. Throughout the republic, urban language politics have served as proxies for identity politics. However, it has been particularly difficult to mobilize civic society in Buryatia, due to its history of divided territory, demographic imbalances, and impoverishment. The chapter then explores why interethnic relations involving Buryats and others have been described with diametrically opposite conclusions, why identity politics are particularly complex in Buryatia, and how the boundaries of the republic have become threatened. It reveals a geopolitical discrepancy between Buryats' concept of their homeland as Greater Buryatia and internal republic boundaries within Russia. The chapter also highlights multiethnic ecological activism, including its interconnections with Buddhist, shamanist, and Russian Orthodox revival projects.

Keywords:   Buryatia, Buryat identities, Buryat language, urban language politics, identity politics, interethnic relations, ecological activism, Buddhist revival, shamanist revival, Russian Orthodox revival

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