Fish Idols and Red Gods
Please join the Harriman Institute for a lecture by Klavdia Smola, Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute. Moderated by Mark Lipovetsky.
The native peoples of the north – the Evenks, Nanai, Khanty, Nenets, Chukchi, Koryak or Eskimos – became objects of assimilation, extermination, and the creation of a written culture from scratch in the early Soviet era. Their small numbers, remoteness from the cultural metropolises, in addition to the still strong ties to the traditions of their ancestors make their literary production a particularly controversial example of modernization and (post)colonial dependencies in the former Soviet state. Due to the lack of a pre-Soviet written literary tradition, “young” literatures (mladopis΄mennye literatury) were born as a symbiosis of folklore, beliefs, indigenous-Christian customs and the surrogate literary tradition of the Russian-European center: the Soviet “master plot.” Having graduated from universities in Moscow or Leningrad, the first generations of writers “(re)invented” a view of themselves as simultaneously native and Other.
What was the consequence of the fact that the Siberia’s native authors internalized the role of the youngest “brother” within the “family” of Soviet national literatures? How did the northern indigenous minorities manifest their own version of the Soviet literary canon and reflect on the “cultural clash” of Sovietization in the post-Thaw period? And what happened when the local authors had experienced a cardinal reevaluation of their values in the pre-perestroika time?