Mothering Tradition: gender and governance among Siberian Evenki

Type de publication  Journal Article
Auteur(s)  Ssorin-Chaikov, N.
Titre de la revue  Max Planck Inst itute for Social Anthropology Working Papers
Volume  45
Année  2002

In this paper, I explore the re-invention of ideas about the traditional place of women in a Siberian society as they were culturally produced in the context of the Soviet/Russian indigenous governance. I examine two governance frameworks: the one of ‘political economy’ of the early Soviet period, which constructed the position of indigenous women as a ‘surrogate working class’; and the other of the late-Soviet ‘theory of ethnos’ which biologised the gender roles and identities. I look at the cultural effects that these governance frameworks had on indigenous notions of gender, and, the other way around, I explore gender as a site of state governance over indigenous communities – and a site of culture change in both the meanings of being indigenous and meanings of the paternalistic state. In doing so, I discuss the limits of the ‘invention of tradition’ model, and argue for the usefulness of Slavoj Zizek’s notion of ‘surplus of signification’ in the understanding of cultural production of gender.