Cover

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Half Title, Series Info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

Notes on Transliteration from Russian and Sakha

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pp. xi-xii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xviii

A myriad of relationships, both professional and personal, undergird and energize a project such as this book. It is therefore with immense gratitude that I acknowledge the crucial role of my colleagues, graduate students, and valued friends connected to GIAL’s Applied Anthropology Department and its Center for Excellence in World Arts: Wendy Atkins, ...

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Introduction: Encountering Olonkho

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pp. 1-10

I sit, enthralled, as the rapid-fire poetic language of the epic narrative flows around me. Outside, the warm breezes fitfully attempt to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Inside, the smooth wood surfaces and the steeply sloping sides of the traditionally styled Sakha dwelling generate a strong echo from the voice of the storyteller. ...

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1. Epic Traditions, Performers, and Audiences

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pp. 11-32

An oral epic tradition composed of alternating sections of narrative poetry and song, olonkho demonstrates many of the characteristics common to other epic narrative traditions that recount at length the adventures of legendary, historical, or mythical heroes surmounting the challenges facing them or their people. ...

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2. Effects of Change during the Soviet Era

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pp. 33-63

The watershed historical event for cultural revitalization in Yakutia occurred with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.1 The surge in freedom of expression for minority peoples during that period of Russian history laid the groundwork for widespread cultural renewal among the Sakha. ...

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3. Esteem for a Masterpiece: The Quest for Recognition

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pp. 64-88

When the Soviet Union dissolved, the political climate for supporting olonkho revitalization saw a season of thriving and growth. At the same time, Yakutia’s demographics began to change. As Russians fled the North for warmer climes in western Russia, the overall number of people in the republic declined, but the percentage of Sakha people in Yakutia increased. ...

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4. Examining the Role of UNESCO and Intangible Cultural Heritage

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pp. 89-107

UNESCO’s proclamation in 2005 of the Sakha olonkho as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity gave the genre special visibility in Yakutia. This prominence launched revitalization programs that changed olonkho’s trajectory in significant ways and led to the establishment of the government-sponsored “Decade of Olonkho.” ...

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5. Elements of Resilience: Stable and Malleable

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pp. 108-134

The historical chapters of this work provide a narrative frame that informs this chapter’s discussion of continuity and change in olonkho performance. Measuring change for intangible cultural heritage remains a complicated process, but sociolinguists have found ways to address issues of language shift that may contribute helpful models for assessing music shift as well. ...

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6. Epic Revitalization: Negotiating Identities and Other Challenges

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pp. 135-155

Attaining the Masterpiece award greatly affected the fate of olonkho, likely turning it back from the brink of permanent disappearance. Still, the future of olonkho remains unclear, and whether to implement ongoing plans for transmission and encourage further innovation in the genre is a decision that rests primarily in the hands of the Sakha people. ...

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7. Ensuring Sustainability through Transmission and Innovation

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pp. 156-162

A wise Russian aphorism declares, “You don’t have to be a prophet to predict the demise of a people deprived of their mother tongue.”1 Many Sakha people feel this way, not only about their language, but also about their arts. In the most potent way possible, these unique artistic expressions energize the self-expression and well-being of the Sakha, ...

Glossary of Russian and Sakha Words

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pp. 163-164

Notes

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pp. 165-202

Works Cited

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pp. 203-224

Index

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pp. 225-234

About the Author

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Further Series Titles

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