Living with Koryak Traditions


Living with Koryak Traditions

Playing with Culture in Siberia

Alexander D. King

348 pages
23 illustrations, 2 maps, 1 glossary


June 2011


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2011


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

What does it mean to be a traditional Koryak in the modern world? How do indigenous Siberians express a culture that entails distinctive customs and traditions? For decades these people, who live on the Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Siberia, have been in the middle of contradictory Soviet/Russian colonial policies that celebrate cultural and ethnic difference across Russia yet seek to erase those differences. Government institutions both impose state ideologies of culture and civilization and are sites of community revitalization for indigenous Siberians.
In Living with Koryak Traditions, Alexander D. King reveals that, rather than having a single model of Koryak culture, Koryaks themselves are engaged in deep debates and conversations about what “culture” and “tradition” mean and how they are represented for native peoples, both locally and globally. To most Koryaks, tradition does not function simply as an identity marker but also helps to maintain moral communities and support vulnerable youth in dire times. Debunking an immutable view of tradition and culture, King presents a dynamic one that validates contemporary indigenous peoples’ lived experience.

Author Bio

Alexander D. King is a senior lecturer of anthropology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and managing editor of the journal Sibirica: Journal of Siberian Studies.


"Both theoretically compelling and an engaging read. . . . Very readable for undergraduates."—Justine Buck Quijada, Russian Review

"King's book is a very interesting and welcome addition to the discussion of native culture in post-Soviet Russia."—Katherine Osgood, Sibirica Journal

"This product of meticulous ethnography and long-term engagement with Koryak culture is a very valuable contribution to the study of Siberian societies, Russian colonialism, and post-Soviet cultural dynamics as a whole."—Christos Lynteris, American Anthropologist

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: A Semiotics of Koryak Culture
1. Discovering Koryak Culture through History
2. Genuine and Spurious Culture in Kamchatka
3. Dancing in the Koryak House of Culture
4. The Culture of Schools and Museums
5. "This Is Not My Language!" Koryak Language in Schools
Conclusion: Koryak Culture and the Future of Tradition

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