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

TRACTUS AEVORUM 6 (2). Fall/Winter 2019




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

Svetlana Iu. Belorussova

1) Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences
Universitetskaia emb. 3, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia
2) National Research University “Higher School of Economics”
Soiuza Pechatnikov st. 16, St. Petersburg, 190121, Russia

The Nagaibaks as an ethnic group originated in 1736 after the establishment of the Nagaibak fortress, which brought together natives of different backgrounds from adjacent areas and awarded them 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 the 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 traits within their ethnicity, such as hospitality and rivalry, and openness to innovation (in terms of active participation in ethnic projects) and closeness to 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 feature of Nagaibak ethnicity made it possible to transform themselves 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 (nomadic and sedentary, Christian and Muslim, European and Asian) the Nagaibak ethnic group became open-minded and adaptable, while its nomadic and Cossack sociocultural heritage led to mobility and flexibility in attitudes.



“Peculiarity is What Attracts Here a Historian”

A. A. Maslennikov

Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Dm. Ulyanova st. 19, Moscow, 117292, Russia

Interviewed by

S. N. Prokopenko

Belgorod National Research University
Pobedy st. 85, 308015, Belgorod, Russia

Alexander Alexandrovich Maslennikov is a Russian archaeologist, Classicist, and specialist in the history of the ancient Bosporus. Currently Doctor of Science in History, Professor Maslennikov runs the Field Research Department of the Institute of Archeology (IA) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the Scientific Council and the head of the East Crimean Archaeological Expedition of the IA RAS.



The authors reflect on the elite and society in the Russian Empire, in particular on the criteria for belonging to the elite; the mobility of the border between the elite and non-elite, and between different types of elites; the sources and mechanisms of elite replenishment; metropolitan and provincial elites; and related questions.

Konstantin S. Kunavin

Derzhavin Tambov State University
33 Internatsionalnaia st., 392000, Tambov, Russia

Elena I. Samartseva

Tula State Arms Museum
Oktiabrskaia ul. 2, Tula, 300002, Russia


Tula State University
Lenina pr. 92, Tula, 300012, Russia


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