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The Socialist Way of Life in Siberia

Transformation in Buryatia

Melissa Chakars

Publication Year: 2014

The Buryats are a Mongolian population in Siberian Russia, the largest indigenous minority. The Socialist Way of Life in Siberia presents the dramatic transformation in their everyday lives during the late twentieth century. The book challenges the common notion that the process of modernization during the later Soviet period created a Buryat national assertiveness rather than assimilation or support for the state.

Published by: Central European University Press

Maps, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-x

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Notes on Transliteration and Translation

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pp. xi-xii

The transliteration of words in Russian and Buryat in Cyrillic follows the Library of Congress system in most instances. I have made exceptions for familiar English spellings of well-known names such as Catherine II instead of Ekaterina. This also includes what I have observed to be the more common way to write the word Buryat in...

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pp. xiii-xvi

I am very fortunate to have a long list of people to acknowledge for their generous help and support in producing this book. Many of these incredible people are from Buryatia. In particular, Margarita Boronova-Khalbaeva at Buryat State University and Nikolay Tsyrempilov at the Institute of Mongolian, Tibetan, and Buddhist...

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pp. 1-24

Speaking in 1978 on the local Ulan-Ude radio program The Socialist Way of Life, a Buryat woman named Darizhap Zham’ianova described how her life was very different than that of her mother. Her mother was orphaned at age seven and had been forced to work for kulaks, a label applied to supposed wealthier herders. At one...

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Chapter 1. The Buryats of Siberia: From Imperial Russia to the Soviet State

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pp. 25-60

Before the turn of the twentieth century, the Buryats and the Russian government had settled into a relationship that was generally peaceful and worked fairly well for both parties. The Buryats had certain tax and administrative obligations to the government and as long as these were met, the state interfered little in their everyday...

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Chapter 2. Stalinism in Buryatia

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pp. 61-88

During the 1920s, authorities in Buryatia espoused atheism, promoted communal farms, and encouraged Buryats to become workers and local government bureaucrats. Although some Buryats answered these calls, the majority did not. Instead, the everyday life of most continued much as it had before the October Revolution...

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Chapter 3. The New Buryats

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pp. 89-116

The growth of industry in eastern Siberia, starting in the 1930s and continuing into the 1980s, brought thousands of immigrants from the European regions of the Soviet Union to the Buryat-Mongolian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR).1 This diminished Buryat representation in the republic, but also created opportunities...

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Chapter 4. Education for Change

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pp. 117-158

A good education was crucial for social mobility in the Soviet Union. In Buryatia, local government administrators, educators, and parents contributed to the development of an education system that encouraged professional advancement. Their efforts illustrate the manner in which Buryats engaged in a key part of the Soviet modernization...

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Chapter 5. Buryat Literature for a New Society

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pp. 159-192

Local authorities in Buryatia relied on cultural and educational institutions for creating skilled workers and professionals, as well as altering the behavior and attitudes of society. Literature was a key part of this and authorities assigned great prestige to the written word. They considered printed matter a central symbol of Soviet...

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Chapter 6. A Means to Modernity: Newspapers, Radio, and Television

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pp. 193-226

In 1961 officials launched Buryatia’s first TV station, bringing moving and speaking pictures to people in a way that had never existed before. Television was twentieth century modernity in a tangible form available in one’s own home. In Buryatia, the content of local television also told the story of the contemporary era and...

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Chapter 7. Reform, But What Kind?

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pp. 227-260

The majority of this book is dedicated to the building, spreading, and running of media, cultural, and educational institutions in Buryatia from the early postwar years to the 1980s. By the final decade of Soviet power, such institutions had become well established. They employed many Buryats and were a part of everyday...

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pp. 261-272

While conducting research in Buryatia, I spent many days in the Dissertation Room at Buryat State University when the National Archives of the Republic of Buryatia, the National Library, and the library at the Buryat Scientific Center were closed. My time in the Dissertation Room (where a poster on the wall menacingly asked...


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pp. 273-290


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pp. 291-296

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789633860144
Print-ISBN-13: 9789633860137

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 12 photos
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Buriats -- Politics and government.
  • Buriats -- Social conditions.
  • Buriats -- Social life and customs.
  • Socialism -- Social aspects -- Russia (Federation) -- Buri͡atii͡a.
  • Social change -- Russia (Federation) -- Buri͡atii͡a.
  • Social change -- Russia (Federation) -- Siberia.
  • Buri͡atii͡a (Russia) -- Social conditions.
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