The project investigates the Nenets oral narration, literature and staged heritage through five case studies which illuminate the dynamic relation of the indigenous peoples of Russia with the ideologies that inform(ed) the disciplines and practices through which the Nenets, their tradition and their folklore have been and are still conceptualised, collected, displayed and used.
The aim of the research is to study the history of collecting and displaying Nenets folklore, tradition and heritage as a complex practice where ideologies, such as imperialism, nationalism and modernity, are intertwined and often found in nested relationships producing typical imperial situations. Within the imperial situations, the Eurocentric discourses can be renewed, challenged, misinterpreted or erased by the agents, and this study aims to discuss and reflect on these kinds of situations in order to produce new knowledge, develop methodologies and enable societal discussions on imperial pasts and their existence in contemporary societies.
The primary materials consist of archived and contemporary field work data related to the Nenets and the texts and practices that frame or conceptualise their traditions in specific imperial situations. The secondary materials provide detailed background information and consist of social and academic discussions in newspapers, correspondence, reports and lectures.
The imperial situations are interpreted primarily through the Nenets narratives that either tell about the imperial situations or are part of them. The departure point is, thus, to provincialize the earlier Eurocentric notions and narratives and read the imperial situations in vernacular terms. The methods employ narrative analysis and focus on the discoveries and discussions of those metacultural regimes that perpetuate the circulation of the cultural contents related to the Nenets.
The research will reassess folklore studies as imperial practice, discussing it in the contexts of Finnish, Russian and Soviet practices. The analysis will produce a novel picture of the discipline and help to discuss its place as a participant in but also as a complainant of colonial policies. Furthermore, the research will diversify and strengthen postcolonial theory by bringing Russia and its complex imperial histories into focus. It will also advance new imperial histories and their understanding of the vernacular through the implementation of methodologies of folklore studies.