On Russian settlers: Kathryn E. Graber, Jesse D. Murray, ‘The Local History of an Imperial Category: Language and Religion in Russia’s Eastern Borderlands, 1860s–1930s’, Slavic Review, 74, 1, 2015, pp. 127-152
Abstract: The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed the construction and naturalization of many unitary ethnolinguistic categories that would serve diverse ends within the Russian and Soviet states. This article combines disciplinary perspectives from linguistic anthropology and history to excavate the local history of one such category—the Buriat language. We trace the category’s origin in the grammars, translations, and correspondence of its first Russian proponents, Russian Orthodox missionary linguists working in the area around Lake Baikal, and its subsequent uptake by Buriat nationalists and Soviet linguists. We show that the missionaries and their religious motivations played a significant role in the construction of ethnolinguistic categories and that these ethnolinguistic categories were not, as is oft en thought, predominantly imposed by the center onto distant peripheries. Attending to Orthodox missionaries’ linguistic work in the Baikal region reveals the more complex local workings of colonial power.
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