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S.N.Korusenko, M.L.Berezhnova
ETHNICAL GENEALOGY OF THE PEOPLES OF SIBERIA:
RESULTS AND PROSPECTS OF STUDIES*

The progress of contemporary science is characterized by the appearance of new disciplines as a result of the search for new sources and the development of new methods of research. Now we can rightfully speak of the existence of ethnic genealogy as a sector of science that has emerged in the border area between ethnography and genealogy.

The definition of genealogy itself has been subject to constant change in Russia. At one time it was limited to the determination of kinship, at another its scope was growing to become immeasurable. S.N.Korusenko offers the following definition of the discipline: "Genealogy is the science which determines the origins of human individuals and the kinship between them; it also studies family-kinship groups, their ties and relations in the historical dynamics". The object of genealogy is the human individual inside family-kinship groups. Every human individual is a member of an ethnic unity that differs from other ethnic unities by its culture in the broadest sense of the word. The ethnically specific in the traditional family-kinship institutes and relations is studied by ethnic genealogy.

The studies lying on the border of ethnography and genealogy of Siberian peoples became regular in the 1960s when scholars participating in ethnographic expeditions began recording the genealogies of the indigenous peoples of  Siberia. According to G.M.Afanasyeva and Yu.B.Simchenko, "among other ethnographic data that are obtained by questioning the genealogical descriptions are the most reliable. First of all, they include objective facts that can be checked for authenticity" (G.M.Afanasyeva, Yu.B.Simchenko 1992).

One of the first to be used in ethnic genealogy was the method of compiling the family and kindred genealogical schemes the essentials of which were developed by Yu.A.Filipchenko and V.V.Bunak in the 1920s. Later that method was improved by G.M.Afanasyeva, V.I.Vasilyev and Yu.B.Simchenko, ethnographists studying Siberia. The method was perfected on the materials collected from several peoples during the period of more than 20 years. The ethnographists mentioned above have collected genealogic materials of the Koryak, Chukchi, Eskimo, Even, Manssi, Nganasan, Nenets, Enets peoples.

The materials collected were used for various aims. So, V.I.Vasilyev used the genealogies collected from the Nenets and the Enets for the reconstruction of the ethnic, clan and patronymic composition of the population, the determination of territorial groups, and, in the end, for the description of the ethnic and ethnographic development of each ethnic or ethnographic group over 80 to 100 years and more, if other sources are taken into account (V.I.Vasilyev 1979). Genealogies compiled from field and documentary materials over the period from the 17th to the 20th centuries were used by G.M.Afanasyeva as the main source in the analysis of the virtual system of the marriage ties and in elucidating the process of formation of contemporary groupings among the Nganasans, which, in the end, allowed to reconstruct the order of reproduction in an isolated population limited in number (G.M.Afanasyeva 1990).

The method of compiling the family and kindred genealogies cannot be regarded as something generalized. A genealogical description consists of questioning, recording, and processing the obtained data. The first and the second components are realized simultaneously. However, even at this early stage there is a difference in the forms of collecting and recording made by different scholars, depending on the aims of their study. The more various are the methods of the third stage, that of processing the genealogic data. The method of compiling the family and kindred genealogies in its classical form is readily applicable to the study of almost isolated local groups. In the genealogical study of the Turkic population of Western Siberia scholars faced ethnically multicomponent groups, therefore specific methods of collecting and processing genealogic data had to be elaborated.

The first collecting of genealogic material among the Tatars was directed by N.A.Tomilov in late 1960s and early 1970s. It was aimed at studying the ethnic composition of the Turkic population of the Tomsk sector of the Ob river basin. It was impossible to define various components of the Tatar population from the state statistical documents as they record only the general case of belonging to the Tatar nationality. Therefore, genealogic materials were the only source that allowed to determine both the ethnic composition and the ethnic and ethnographic groups of the Turkic population of Western Siberia.

The specific methods of collecting genealogies used by N.A.Tomilov, N.V.Kuleshova, S.N.Korusenko in their study of the genealogies of the Siberian Tatars produced  following results. It had been proved that the ethnic composition of the population of every locality inhabited by the Siberian Tatars had its peculiarities. Therefore, in order to determine the ethnic composition of the whole group the scholars had to have full data on each locality, i.e. to perform the complete genealogical study of all adult members of the group.

Before the expedition state statistical documents were used for the determination of the circle of persons being in kinship. That decreased the number of genealogies that had to be recorded (excluding the parallel genealogic lines of brothers, sisters, sons and daughters of parents living in the same locality). One stipulation was observed: in every locality the genealogies of persons having different surnames were recorded, since the surnames indicate the genealogic lines. The following data were recorded: the informants surname (maiden name for women), first name, patronymic, date and place of birth, ethnic group, education and occupation data. Similar information about the informants parents and other relatives on fathers and mothers sides was also recorded as well as all migrations of the informants and their relatives and the information on marriages. The collected genealogic material was not homogeneous in its informative value. Most of it concerned the late 19th and the early 20th century, but there are also earlier data (the middle of the19th century).

At present the genealogical studies of Tomsk (N.A.Tomilov 1983), Baraba (N.V.Kuleshova 1999), Kurdak-Sargat (S.N.Korusenko 1999) Tatars have been completed. The questioning involved 96.5 per cent of all adults in the Tomsk Tatar villages under investigation, 56.4 per cent in the Baraba Tatar, 74.8 per cent in the Kurdak-Sargat Tatar villages under investigation.
One of the principal aspects of these genealogical studies is the characteristic of the contemporary ethnic composition of the Tatar population which is connected with the determination of the indigenous Siberian and migrated Volga-Urals Tatars and their descendants as well as descendants from ethnically mixed families. Besides, there was the task of correlating the obtained figures with the ethnic self-consciousness of our informants. In this case we do not mean the ethnic self-consciousness as the consciousness of being a member of a certain ethnic group which is expressed first of all through the informants native name. What we do mean is the self-definition as to the descent. Therefore, not only the respondents idea of being a member of a certain group but also his or her descent determined by the analysis of the genealogy is taken into account. The completed genealogical studies produced the following results.

The genealogical study of the Tomsk Tatars was performed in late 1960s and early 1970s. The analysis of the genealogic material showed that the indigenous Siberian Tatars prevailed in the population (46.8 per cent). The percentage of the Volga-Urals Tatars was significant (23.7 per cent). But the most striking is he fact that almost 30 per cent were descendants from ethnically mixed families. The majority of cases were mixed marriages of Siberian and Volga-Urals Tatars, the minority those of Tatars and the descendants of Siberian Bukharans whose ancestors were migrants from Central Asia, mostly Uzbeks and Tadjiks. The Bukharans as such could not be determined, all of them merged with Tatars, both with the indigenous and with the migrated. When the descendants from ethnically mixed families defined their descent 14.6 per cent of them called themselves Siberian Tatars, raising the total share of those calling themselves so to 61.4 per cent, while the total share of those identifying themselves as Volga-Urals Tatars increased to 31.9 per cent only. Therefore, self-identification as Siberian Tatars prevails among the Tomsk Tatar population.

The genealogical studies of the Baraba Tatars began in the middle of 1970s. A relatively complete characteristic of the contemporary ethnic composition of the Baraba Tatar population as a whole and of its components separately was produced, basing on the analysis of Tatar genealogies. The genealogies show two main ethnic components of the Baraba Tatar population: the indigenous Baraba Tatars (the Baraba) (34.5 per cent) and the Volga-Urals Tatars and their descendants (43.4 per cent). The representatives of both groups mostly retain their ethnic self-consciousness, which is manifested through their native names. Taking into account the results of the ethnosociological polls performed in Baraba in 1971 and in 1991, the indigenous population of the Baraba Tatars auls (villages) may be characterized by two-level ethnic self-consciousness, the first being conscious of themselves as a part of Siberian Tatars, the second as indigenous Baraba Tatars, the Baraba. So, 8.5 per cent respondents identified themselves as Siberian Tatars. Part of respondents (9.2 per cent) denoted themselves simply as Tatars; most likely, they were descendants from mixed marriages.

Genealogies in large numbers proved useful for studying the degree of mixing of the indigenous Baraba Tatars and the migrated Volga-Urals Tatars. Despite some degree of isolation at the beginning, representatives of both main ethnic groups of the Tatar population contracted marriages. The majority of the descendants from the ethnically mixed families identify themselves as Baraba Tatars.

The genealogies of the Tatar population on the territory inhabited by the Kurdak-Sargat Tatars (Omsk and Tyumen regions) were collected in late 1970s - mid-1980s. Their analysis showed that at present the Tatars of the region did not form an integral ethnic group. Two main ethnic components were the indigenous Kurdak-Sargat Tatars identifying themselves mostly as Siberian Tatars who formed a majority (79.9 per cent according to the genealogies) and the migrated Volga-Urals Tatars (10.2 per cent). The genealogies helped to determine the degree of mixing of the two components: 9.9 per cent were the descendants from ethnically mixed families. The genealogies also showed that the migrated Tatar population was beginning to identify themselves as Siberian Tatars. That process was especially active in ethnically mixed families.

Comparing the results of the genealogical studies of Tomsk, Baraba, and Kurgak-Sargat Tatars, several common features of their ethnic development can be found. First, all those groups contain two main elements: Siberian and Volga-Urals Tatars. The latter are the most numerous in the Tomsk sector of the Ob river basin and in the Baraba steppe. Secondly, in spite of the fact that in the 19th century the marriages between the Siberian and the Volga-Urals Tatars were considered undesirable, an enormous number of them is shown by the genealogies in the 20th century. In the end, that resulted in the appearance of the clearly defined group of ethnically mixed Tatars whose parents or earlier ancestors contracted mixed marriages. Descendants from such families most often identify themselves simply as Tatars or Siberian Tatars explaining it by the fact of Siberia being their birthplace. Thirdly, the descendants of Volga-Urals Tatars, generally, do retain their ethnic self-consciousness. A few of them are gradually beginning to identify themselves as Siberian Tatars (this process is the most effective in ethnically mixed families), but the majority retains the ethnogenetic consciousness, i.e. identifying themselves as Siberian Tatars, the descendants of Volga-Urals Tatars remember the ethnic group of their ancestors very well. Therefore, the term "Siberian Tatars" not so much means the ethnic group as the territory ("Siberian" is "living in Siberia").

The genealogies of Russian peasants are used in historical studies quite differently. In the works of V.A.Aleksandrov (1964), M.M.Gromyko (1977), T.S.Mamsik (1989), and other scholars genealogies are not the main but an auxiliary source, and they are used in the study of a limited number of problems. Generally, such materials were used in the analysis of the composition and character of the peasant family in Western Siberia of the feudal period (see also: Z.P.Boyarshinova 1967), for the dating of foundation of inhabited localities in the process of opening up of Siberia in 18th and 19th centuries. Genealogic data from archives were also used by ethnographists in parallel with contemporary field materials in the studies of the traditional life of Russian families in the Angara and Transbaikal regions (A.A.Lebedeva 1969; L.M.Saburova 1967). Another important area of possible application of genealogic materials has been mentioned in literature: the studies of small social groups inside the peasant commune and its inner structure. The experience gained by the scholars mentioned above shows that the study of genealogies of non-privileged estates, first of all peasants, calls for the use of an enormous number of sources of varied content, which, in its turn, entails the development of specific methods of work (M.V.Borisenko 1993).

Meanwhile, the ethnography of Russians has one problem of long standing, that of Siberians. Performing empirical studies, scholars have amassed an important base of fact data that makes it possible to characterize the culture of Russian Siberians in all of its aspects. It can be considered proved that the culture of the Russian population of Siberia differs in many parameters from any local culture of Russians in the European part of Russia. But what is the process of levelling and standardization of the local forms of culture in Siberia? Does the Siberian Russian culture have a common ground and where is its source? The problem of unity of the Russian population of Siberia seems to be complicated. The accepted classification of Siberian Russians into the groups of old residents and migrants with the separate treatment of the ethnosocial group of Cossacks and the ethnoconfessional group of Old Believers cannot any longer satisfy the contemporary scholars.

There is a serious cause delaying the solution of the problems indicated. Usually the population of Siberia is represented with the round number of 25 millions. One million of them are members of the indigenous ethnic groups, the rest are the descendants of migrants of various periods. Approximately 80 per cent of the population of Siberia or 20 millions of people are Russians. The ethnographists who study Russians are practically acquainted , as a rule, with several regions of Siberia and perceive the rest of its culture through various publications.

But the solution of the problem of population unity and the genesis of local culture form is hardly possible if the ethnic history of the group is not taken into account. For this reason the Omsk ethnographists studying the Russian population have accepted the ethnogenetic method based on genealogy studies. These scholars, unlike their colleagues studying the indigenous population, cannot present ready results of such studies. Though they began to collect genealogies among Russians as early as 1970s, the problems of ethnic history of Russians in the Central Irtysh basin came to the forefront only in mid-1990s.

The history of formation of the population in this region has been thoroughly studied by historians (A.D.Kolesnikov 1973). However, historians omit, as a rule, aspects connected with the ethnic status of the population of the studied territories. When speaking of migrations, they only mention the province of departure, seldom the volost, the smallest administrative division. Such information is often insufficient for the determination of the migrants ethnic group.

Studying the family histories of persons living in certain localities, ethnographists are not just accumulating materials and perfecting the methods that have a specific character in studying large groups, as mentioned above. Some empirical observations lead to certain conclusions which, as we believe, should be taken into account in treating the problem of the cultural genesis and the ethnic history of Russian Siberians.

The analysis of the genealogies collected in expeditions makes it possible to determine the non-homogeneity of the old residents group of the Russian population. It has been found that the term "old residents" ("starozhily"), although very popular in special literature, is not used by Russian Siberians. To denote persons living permanently in the area the term "rodchiye" (approximate meaning: the native) is used in the Central Irtysh basin. Where the population consists of descendants of old residents and of the migrants of the 19th century living side by side, the term "cheldon" is used to denote the former. Basing on genealogies, scholars determined a group intermediate between the old residents and the late migrants. Those Russians who came to Siberia in mid-19th century and their descendants called themselves Siberians. Other inhabitants of the Central Irtysh basin do not use this term in order to denote their status among all Russians.
The ethnic non-homogeneity of those migrated to Siberia in late 19th - early 20th centuries has been proved in ethnographic literature. Usually this group is denoted by the generalized term "Rossiyskiye" ("those from Russia"). The genealogical studies showed that this term was really widely used in Siberia but more often the migrants preferred a concrete name indicating a certain feature of their group. According to the area of departure they were called Tambs (migrants from the Tambov province), Ryazans (from that of Ryazan), Vyatskiye (from that of Vyatka). According to the type of migration: "Samokhody" ("self-comers") who were coming without the documents authorizing migration. Sometimes newcomers got their name based on some cultural feature from their neighbours. For example, the small group of Chunari got their name from chuni, the type of footwear that they wore. The same happened to Lapotony who wore lapti (bast shoes).

The collected genealogies show clearly that all those names are retained in the ethnogenetic memory. More than 95 per cent of Russians identify themselves as Russians in the first place, though a considerable number of informants know their second ethnic name. Therefore, the genealogical studies of Russians in the Central Irtysh basin show that the national self-consciousness is the most stabile and the most active, and that is what unites the people with a complicated ethnic group composition to an integrity.

Therefore, at present we envisage the prospects of using the methods of ethnic genealogy in the studies of ethnic history of Russian Siberians. These methods are also beginning to be used in the studies of traditional culture.

The analysis of the genealogies is not limited to the study of contemporary ethnic composition of the population. An important aspect of the use of contemporary genealogic material is its comparison to archive data such as census data of the 18th and 19th centuries. It allows the reconstruction of genealogies and so opens up much of the ethnic history, calling up the real picture of formation of the contemporary ethnic unity over two or three centuries.
Important results in combining genealogic materials with archive data have been obtained by the ethnographist G.M.Afanasyeva (Moscow) in determining "...the ethnodemographic features of formation of isolated populations of the autochthons of the Extreme North on the example of the Nganasans" (G.M.Afanasyeva 1990). As for the studies of the records of genealogies and archive materials (initial census data) and combining these two groups of sources on the example of the population that, far from being isolated, is subject to diverse and sufficiently intensive interethnic contacts, certain experience has been gained here by Omsk scholars (S.N.Korusenko 1999).

The possible use of genealogic data, especially  of those obtained in a massive genealogical study, is not limited to the cases indicated here. For example, there is the prospect of combining them with the data on marriages taken from vital statistics registers. Genealogies make it possible to present the demographic situation in different chronologic periods, to define the characteristics of the population as to age and gender, social and professional status etc. As for the studies of contemporary ethnic and ethnosocial composition of the population, we believe that genealogies should become the foremost source here.

In fact, nowadays one of the key problems is to persuade ethnographists to collect constantly massive genealogic data. At present only a few scholars work in the field of ethnic genealogy in Russia. We hope that the experience of Omsk ethnographists who have amassed ample genealogic material (more than 20 thousand of contemporary genealogies of the peoples of Western Siberia) will stimulate similar efforts of scholars in other regions of Siberia.

* Работа впервые опубликована: Интеграция археологических и этнографических исследований. - Владивосток-Омск, 2000. - С. 41-45.

© С.Н. Корусенко, М.Л. Бережнова, 2000


 

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