Austrian anthropologist Dr.Krist gave a presentation in ASC
On April 6, 2021, Austrian anthropologist Dr. Stefan Krist visited our center and gave a presentation entitled "Across borders: Traditional sports as means for re-strengthening cultural self-esteem and self-representation among the Buryats in Russia, China and Mongolia ". Dr. Krist is a current faculty in Mongolian Studies Center at Inner Mongolian University.
The Buryats settle in Russia, Mongolia and China near the borders with the respective two other countries, thus are both border and transborder people and, in addition, an ethnic minority everywhere.
The talk deals with the Eryn Gurban Naadan, the Buryat ‘Three Manly Games’, archery, wrestling, and horse racing, of which in all three countries numerous competitions are held locally and regionally, but several also at supraregional and international levels. Special attention will be given to the transborder movements of people, animals, objects and ideas in conjunction with these sports activities, which have greatly increased since the opening of the borders in the early-1990s. The most striking examples for this process are biennially held sports and folklore festivals attended by Buryat sportspeople and artists from all three countries. The largest of these events are the Altargana festivals, which are hosted on a rotating base by the regional governments of Buryat regions in Russia and Mongolia since the mid-1990s. Buryat sportspeople – especially wrestlers – and Buryat artists – especially dancers – are however also crossing the borders for attending smaller local events. By doing so and by competing in these sports with each other and by dancing and singing together they foster a common Buryat self-identity and, at the same time, the self-esteem of the members of the Buryat minorities in all three countries, as these events showcase their culture as distinct from the Russian, Mongolian and Chinese.
Efforts made by the organizers of these events for reinforcing a common Buryat identity are described, and in particular the measures which were taken to unify the competitions’ procedures, rules and equipment and gear requirements, but also the differences which remain due to the decades-long separation and the different cultural influences from the dominant ethnic and national cultures in the three countries, thus processes of ongoing negotiations between still plural identities and materialities.