rss_2.0Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics FeedSciendo RSS Feed for Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics of Ethnology and Folkloristics Feed Review: Vernacular Knowledge: Contesting Authorities, Expressing Beliefs Soup at the Service Area: Thoughts on an Infrastructure of Meaningful Sociality<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In this paper, I draw on ethnographic fieldwork (participant observation) carried out at a Bulgarian service area to argue that such spaces create a ‘meaningful sociality’ building on imagination and sensual experience, as well as on experiences of intersectional oppression or dominance. I draw on the history and adaptations of <italic>shkembeto</italic> (tripe soup) and my observations of its preparation and serving at one such service area. This soup, which is famous in Turkey and Bulgaria, offers some people disorienting sensory experiences that are associated with complex power relations, which makes the service area a site for reflection on discrimination and gender roles. The paper closes with reflections on the sociality of such places, which is ephemeral but meaningful both there and at home.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue‘ ’ and ‘ ’: A Mutual Attraction<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Old Belief emerged as a broad social and religious movement in the second half of the 17th century as a result of church reform. The Old Believers who did not adopt the reforms were forced to flee to the outer reaches of Russia and were persecuted by both the church and secular powers until the beginning of the 20th century. This contributed to a great extent to the development of eschatological opinions and the striving for social and general isolation. A distinctive feature of the Old Believers’ culture is traditionalism, which is expressed in both everyday and religious practice. Old Belief, as a form of Christianity, is seen among most scholars and the general public as an exclusively Russian phenomenon. However, it was also quite widespread among a number of Finno-Ugric peoples; in the territory of the Ural and Volga region most of the non-Russian Old Believers were Mordovians or Komi-Permyaks.</p> <p>The main reasons for the process of transition from ‘<italic>inorodtsy</italic>’ (‘infidels’) to ‘<italic>raskolnik</italic>s’<sup>1</sup> (‘schismatics’) were the lack of social barriers (both were religious outsiders) and the conflict caused by the State’s policy of violent Christianisation. There were many different nuances in this process related to the problem of language, the perception among Finno-Ugrians of the use of books, and the closed nature of the group. In this paper, I would like to describe this based on archival documents and my own field research.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Care Belief Practices: Traditional Mother–Child Care During Birth in Rural Punjab, Pakistan<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article analyses the birth care beliefs practiced in a Punjabi village. Birth care is an important practice that ensures a safe and uncomplicated birth for both mother and child. The study presents an in-depth exploration of the human–divine connection and its symbolic manifestation in birth care rituals in rural Muslim communities. Utilising unstructured interviews with midwives, mothers, elderly women, and an imam, the research sheds light on the essential role of religious prayers, Quran recitation, charity, as well simulative imagery and amulets within the cultural care system of rural Punjab. Words, symbols, objects, and symbolic expressions emerge as powerful tools in facilitating faith healing and enhancing its perceived efficacy. The research deepens our understanding of the faith-based birth care process and highlights the essential interdependence of the human– divine connection and symbolic expression (manifestation of belief) within faith-based birth care practices.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Near-Death Experience Narrated by a Vepsian Woman<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article* focuses on the immediate near-death experience of an elderly woman living in traditional Vepsian culture. We analyse which universal, and which more culturally motivated features are present in her story narrated to us in 2018. We conclude that, despite the strong association with animistic beliefs in the informant’s everyday life, the experience is dominated by elements specific to vernacular Orthodox Christianity. The article presents a translation from Vepsian of a fragmentary personal experience narrative.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Review: The Consolations of Humor and Other Folklore Essays Udmurt Sacred Places, Yesterday and Today<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Most Udmurt living in the Bashkortostan Republic and in the Perm’ region of the Russian Federation are followers of a traditional ethnic religion. In their spiritual life, a huge place is occupied by sanctuaries and other places in which their ritual practices take place, such as the worship of deities, spirits and ancestors. We can identify different types of such places in this Udmurt regional group: the sanctuary dedicated to the cult of the clan protector deities, groves dedicated to the god Lud, places dedicated to personal and family cults, sacred places of agrarian sacrifices, territories where funerary and commemorative rituals take place, places dedicated to the propitiation of evil spirits. Depending on their social status, the sanctuaries are regional or general and can be related to a family, clan, village, or multiple villages. In this article, which relies on the authors’ ethnographic fieldwork and published sources, we analyse the present state of the sacred places. We show that the transformation of cultural patterns has led some types of sanctuary to cease functioning, while others have remained as relics and the places of agrarian sacrifices have undergone an active revitalisation.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue to the Special Issue: Living Animisms and Monotheisms in the Finno-Ugric World Elusive Concept of ‘Tradition Science’ in the Nordic Institute of Folklore Under Lauri Honko’s Directorship<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The Nordic Institute of Folklore, internationally well known by its abbreviation NIF, left a lasting imprint on the history of Nordic and international folkloristics despite its relatively short operation period of less than four decades. The present article, first in a series of forthcoming articles on NIF, examines Lauri Honko’s directorship in the 1970s and 1980s and focuses on the changing of the institute’s field of operation from folkloristics to ‘tradition science’. The term ‘tradition science’ (<italic>traditionsvetenskap</italic> in Swedish, <italic>perinnetiede</italic> in Finnish) was never clearly defined in NIF, but was used – and it has continued to be used in folkloristics and ethnology in Finland – in three meanings: an approximate synonym for folkloristics, a joint term for folkloristics and ethnology, and (in plural) an umbrella term for an unspecified number of fields in the study of history, vernacular religion, and culture. The possible earlier history of the term is beyond the scope of this research, but there are indications that the term came into use in both Finnish-language and Swedish-language folklore research in the early 1970s, while the similar term ‘tradition research’ (<italic>traditionsforskning</italic> in Swedish, <italic>perinteentutkimus</italic> in Finnish) has a longer history. The term ‘tradition science’ was adopted into NIF’s statutes around the same time as the Nordic Council of Ministers – through which the inter-governmental funding of NIF was administered – initiated the expansion of NIF’s profile to cover folk culture “in its entirety”, suggesting specifically the extension of NIF’s field of operation to include ethnology. Whether NIF implemented this expansion or not, and to what extent, is a matter of debate, and the topic of this article.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Review: Galvanizing Nostalgia? Indigeneity and Sovereignty in Siberia Elements and Their Folk Adaptations in the Funeral and Memorial Rites of the Ludian Karelians<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The article* focuses on an analysis of the funeral and memorial rituals of the Ludian Karelians in the context of folk religion. For many years, rites of Orthodox origin were either viewed unilaterally or ignored altogether in ethnographic literature, with the reconstruction of ‘pagan’ elements being highlighted, which in turn gave rise to the theory of dual faith. According to the results of my research, the funeral and memorial traditions of the Ludians (from the late 19th to the late 20th century) are based on an Orthodox funeral system in which many aspects derived from a Christian basis found new interpretation. For example, the requirement to light candles was explained as lighting the way to the afterlife, the importance of making confession was so that the dying person’s sins would not attach to the living, and funeral services were to help the soul of the deceased ‘settle’, etc. The principal exponents of the funeral rituals, who ensured the successful transition of the soul to the next world, were representatives of the people: women who washed the body of the deceased, and lamenters, but the church priesthood nonetheless played a significant role in conducting the rituals. The priest’s participation is apparent at all stages of the funeral ritual, from confession to commemoration. Following the abolition of the institution of the church during the Soviet period, the functions of the priest were assumed by elderly women who knew the prayers and church burial traditions.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Commemorative Rituals in Udmurt Culture<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article takes as its focus an examination of instances of occasional commemoration of the dead in Udmurt culture. Descriptions of such commemorations are based on sources drawn from published research literature as well as the author’s own field materials collected between 2007 and 2022. It should be noted that, to date, no specific research has been conducted on this issue, most probably due to its irregularity and, to some extent, its intimate nature. The material shows that cases of occasional commemoration within Udmurt culture cover a fairly wide range of social, ceremonial and magical aspects of life. Faith in the power and strength of ancestors has built up an entire system of relationships and behavioural strategies that vividly characterise a traditional worldview that is actualised in extraordinary life circumstances. It can be said that today examples of occasional commemorations are quite diverse, and are commonplace in the everyday and ceremonial life of the Udmurt.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue (Mal)Functionality of<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Continuing a dialogue with Ülo Valk on the value of the etic term <italic>vernacular</italic> in folk-loristic scholarship, this essay responds to his claim that despite the stigma of the word’s past usage and its rejection by other fields it holds promise for folkloristics because of its conceptual flexibility, which he finds is especially conducive to the study of belief and religious practices. Pointing out that flexibility – or “fuzziness” to quote other critics – suggests imprecision, residualism, hierarchy, and lack of analytical instrumentality, this essay contends that use of <italic>vernacular</italic> reveals more about its users than the groups and practices it purports to describe. Recounting the intellectual history of the term and its adoption in folkloristic circles as well as the author’s own scholarship, this essay maintains that the term has limited, if any, use in folkloristics and ethnology because of its negative assumptions and “fuzzy” logic. It can be reflexively analyzed, however, to understand scholars’ perceptions of cultural phenomena and their conflicts with cognitive categories of practice and belief enacted by cultural participants.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Contemporary Ethno-Confessional Situation Among the Udmurts of Perm Territory<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The article, which is based on both published sources and field expedition materials from recent decades, sets out to examine the confessional processes taking place in a small area in the south of Perm Territory that is settled by Udmurts, the foundation of whose religious tradition was the preservation of traditional beliefs. The author has conducted an analysis of the historical prerequisites for the formation of a multi-confessional community, characterised by both the preservation of traditional religion and the active spread of Islam and Christianity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The historical experience of this period has influenced the modern ethno-confessional situation. Today, each of the religious traditions observed by the community being studied has a different potential for development. Following the restoration of the system of prayers and institutions, traditional religion has played a vital role, both in the modern ethnic identity of the group as a whole, and in the local identity of the inhabitants of specific villages and hamlets. In their capacity as significant and major social events of the year, prayers occupy an important place in the contemporary ethno-cultural life of the Kuyeda Udmurts. At the same time, the symbolic nature of prayers, the loss of a developed system of ideas, along with the absence of outstanding confessional leaders are often the reasons for the absence of public religious life in some Udmurt villages, and for the lack of involvement of a significant part of the local community in contemporary confessional events. Christianity currently has significant potential to spread within the group individual strategies, as well as missionary work, are the main reasons for its active spread in recent decades. Islam has maintained its position in the same period.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Religious Practice Today: Between Native Traditions and World Religions<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article reflects on the complex Udmurt religious situation. The Udmurt, a minority group in Central Russia, have an animistic background and live today in different administrative units of the Russian Federation: they have their own Republic, Udmurtia, in which the majority of the population is composed by ethnic Orthodox Russians, but they live also, from West to East, in the Kirov oblast, in the Mari El Republic, in Tatarstan, in Bashkortostan, and in some smaller groups eastwards. In the core territory they were submitted to forced Evangelisation by the Orthodox Russians after their integration into Muscovy, in the 16th century. Eventually, the imposed conversion succeeded, while in regions where the dominant religion was Islam, and where many fled under pressure, they kept their original religious practice. This article investigates this group’s religious affiliations and real practice today, between Orthodoxy and Islam, observing that where Islam dominates, animism thrives while where Orthodoxy dominates, different forms of syncretistic religious practice keep the former worldview alive.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Pregnancy, Childbirth and Childcare Traditions<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The article deals with customs and rituals related to pregnancy, childbirth and childcare among Kazakhs at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, and the preservation and changes in these traditions today. The article is based on written data, as well as field data collected by authors from East Kazakh-stan. The customs of the Kazakh people are connected with those of neighbouring people, including the Turkic-speaking people of Siberia and Central Asia.</p> <p>The rituals associated with a pregnancy and childbirth have been divided into three main stages: prenatal customs, childbirth customs, and postpartum customs. We analysed the formation of these customs and their semantic meanings. This helps us to identify factors that have influenced and affected women’s position in the family and in society, as well as those factors that led to an increase or decrease in status. Kazakhs have a particular respect for pregnant women, and the status of women who give birth to sons, or to many children, is especially high.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue“I Had No Childhood”: A Trauma History of Deported Ukrainians from Western Boykivshchyna<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The article is devoted to the trauma history of Ukrainians from Western Boykivshchyna, part of the Boykivshchyna ethnographical region situated in modern Ukraine. Operation Vistula (1947–1950) was the forced resettlement of more than 150,000 Ukrainians and mixed Polish-Ukrainian families from the territory of Rzeszów, Lublin and Kraków provinces (Voivodeships) to the western and northern territories of Poland, leading to radical changes within this regional group. The article deals with the difficult experience of the resettlers not only in the context of psychological, but also cultural, trauma. According to the theory of Polish sociologist Piotr Sztompka, three main phases of cultural trauma induced by resettlement have been highlighted and are outlined as strategies to cope with trauma: contemporary resettlers’ preservation of native culture, religion and family tradition, and sharing memories of the past.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Post-Socialist Residential School and the Continuum of Violence<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article* discusses the tolerance of violence. Specifically, it explores the way violence is enacted and perpetuated in residential education in Latvia. The article explores the perception and experience of violence in these schools by combining ethnographic fieldwork and autoethnographic data. Violence within the institution coalesces around three main aspects of experience: violence as necessary for regulating relationships, the embodiment of violence, and the expression of institutional violence. I illustrate how the application of violence is often justified as developing independence in students and by offering opportunities that mask the role of the school system in the reproduction of inequality in society. I conclude with an exploration of how the tolerance of violence arises from reproduction of an unequal social order that is maintained through the duplicitous position of the residential school as simultaneously necessary and unnecessary, closed and open, violent and nurturing.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue and Overcoming Trauma in an Evangelical Romani Community<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article addresses the role of evangelicalism as a means of overcoming the trauma caused by natural disaster or disease. Using an ethnographic approach, it examines the connection between the beliefs of Roma in the Asparukhovo neigh-bourhood of the Bulgarian city of Varna and the hazards from which they suffered: the flood in June 2014 and Covid-19 during its first wave in 2020. People make sense of tragedy using different interpretations. It is seen as a form of divine punishment, a test for religious people, or it is associated with human negligence. Disaster provokes a variety of reactions among evangelical Christians, ranging from solidarity to distrust. Most importantly, their religious practice provides them with survival tactics and a direction to follow after catastrophe has disrupted their routine.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue“Laughter and Sex Prolong Life”: Current Trends in the Humour Practices of Russian-Speakers in Estonia<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>We investigate the humour production, consumption and sharing of Russian-speakers in Estonia, based on the self-reflections and self-perceptions of their humour preferences and other humour-related behaviour. By studying the representation of the humour practices of this important minority community we can get a more complete picture of humour in Estonia. Analysis of survey results reveals that according to Russian-speakers, among their favourite topics were everyday life, and sex- and family-related matters. Visual humour was the most popular form. Respondents mentioned social media as the primary way of sharing humour, but oral transmission remained important as well. The language of the shared humour was primarily Russian, and the content was mainly not specific to the Estonian cultural context. As humorous vernacular expression offers insights into the mechanisms of identity-building and integration, the choice of language and of source can be interpreted as a way to create and maintain a local identity. On the whole, Russian-speakers in Estonia are reluctant to discuss their minority status in a humorous manner.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue