Federal State Autonomous Educational Institution of Higher Education "Belgorod National Research University"

Liminality in the Ethnohistory, Culture, and Kinship
of the Nagaibaks

S. Iu. Belorussova

1) Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology
and Ethnography (Kunstkamera),
Russian Academy of Sciences
2) National Research University “Higher School of Economics”

The ethnicity of the Nagaibaks originated in 1736 after the establishment of the Nagaibak fortress, in which inorodtsy of different backgrounds from adjacent areas were gathered and given the status of Cossacks (on condition of their baptism). Later, after their resettlement to the New Line in 1842–43, the Nagaibaks formed a peculiar community: their membership in a military estate and their inclusion of peoples of different traditions and creeds helped them to become “a border people” in spatial and sociocultural dimensions. In turn, this “liminality” allowed the Nagaibaks to unite opposing features within their ethnicity—hospitality and rivalry, openness to innovation (in terms of active participation in ethnic projects) and closeness in traditions (in terms of preserving rituals of kinship). At various points in their history, the Nagaibaks turned to either openness or closeness, or a combination of both. In the Soviet period, an emphasis on closeness allowed them to preserve their culture (“introvert mode”). In the post-Soviet period, on the contrary, the Nagaibaks mobilized their ethnicity through openness (“extrovert mode”). This dynamic ethnicity made possible a transition from the spatial mobility of the past to the activization of ethnicity in the present. Through their development at the crossroads of different types of cultures (nomad and sedentary, Christian and Muslim, European and Asia) the Nagaibak culture became open-minded and adaptable, while the nomad and Cossack sociocultural heritage led to mobility and flexibility in their actions.

Keywords: Nagaibaks, ethnicity, borderland, mobility, sedentism, tradition, novation

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