Arctic Mirrors: Russia and the Small Peoples of the North by Yuri Slezkine

By Yuri Slezkine

For over years the Russians questioned what sort of humans their Arctic and sub-Arctic topics have been. "They have mouths among their shoulders and eyes of their chests," mentioned a fifteenth-century story. "They rove round, dwell in their personal unfastened will, and beat the Russian people," complained a seventeenth-century Cossack. "Their activities are quite impolite. they don't take off their hats and don't bow to every other," huffed an eighteenth-century student. they're "children of nature" and "guardians of ecological balance," rhapsodized early nineteenth-century and overdue twentieth-century romantics. Even the Bolsheviks, who classified the circumpolar foragers as "authentic proletarians," have been again and again questioned by way of the "peoples from the overdue Neolithic interval who, via advantage in their severe backwardness, can't sustain both economically or culturally with the livid pace of the rising socialist society."

Whether defined as brutes, extraterrestrial beings, or endangered indigenous populations, the so-called small peoples of the north have continuously remained some extent of distinction for speculations on Russian id and a handy trying out flooring for guidelines and pictures that grew out of those speculations. In Arctic Mirrors, a vividly rendered heritage of circumpolar peoples within the Russian empire and the Russian brain, Yuri Slezkine deals the 1st in-depth interpretation of this courting. No different ebook in any language hyperlinks the background of a colonized non-Russian humans to the complete sweep of Russian highbrow and cultural historical past. bettering his account with classic prints and pictures, Slezkine reenacts the procession of Russian fur investors, missionaries, tsarist bureaucrats, radical intellectuals, specialist ethnographers, and commissars who struggled to reform and conceptualize this such a lot "alien" in their topic populations.

Slezkine reconstructs from an enormous diversity of resources the successive authentic regulations and winning attitudes towards the northern peoples, interweaving the resonant narratives of Russian and indigenous contemporaries with the extravagant pictures of renowned Russian fiction. As he examines the various ironies and ambivalences all for successive Russian makes an attempt to beat northern—and for that reason their own—otherness, Slezkine explores the broader problems with ethnic identification, cultural switch, nationalist rhetoric, and not-so eu colonialism.

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