(Re)Claiming Religion in Post-Soviet Siberia: The Case of the Sakha Republic.
A lecture by Dr Liudmila Nikanorova (UiT)
In this presentation, I discuss the processes of (re)claiming Sakha religions in the post-Soviet Sakha Republic from the perspective of the critical study of religion. I explore the three contemporary religious organizations that claim to represent ‘the ancient religion of Sakha’, and the processes of their registration and recognition by the Russian Federation's Ministry of Justice. I argue that Sakha themselves began legally claiming Sakha religions (in the plural) only from the 2010s, whereas the descriptions of Sakha religion (in the singular) before the 2010s can be largely seen as the result of scholarly translations and categorizations. Reflecting on the role of institutions in power, such as state authorities and academia, I attempt to challenge the established understandings of the Sakha religion (for example, shamanism) and describe instead the multitude and variety that constitute this notion.