Research project

the Eastern Udmurts


The team

This project is to be an international cooperative project. It gathers all the existent expertise and new research resources on the Bashkortostan Udmurt. The members of the team come from the following institutions:

  • INALCO (Paris, France)
    • Prof. Eva Toulouze (PhD, Hab) – anthropologist, professor and principal investigator
  • University of Tartu (Tartu, Estonia)
    • Dr. Liivo Niglas – researcher at the department of ethnology, filmmaker
    • Dr. Laur Vallikivi – researcher in the anthropology of religion at the department of ethnology
    • Mariya Vyatchina – doctoral student in ethnology at the department of ethnology
  • Estonian Literary Museum
    • Dr. Nikolai Anisimov – folklorist, researcher at the Estonian Literary Museum and at the Udmurt research institute of the Academy of Science of Russia (Izhevsk)
  • the Udmurt research institute of the Academy of Science of Russia (Izhevsk)
    • Dr. Irina Pchelovodova, ethnomusicologist, head of the ethnomusicology department
    • Dr. Prof. Tatyana Vladykina, folklorist.
  • Ufa, Institute of the Academy of Sciences (Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia)
    • Dr. Ranus Sadikov, ethnographer, head of the department of minority peoples
  • University of Pécs (Pécs, Hungary)
    • Dr. Zoltán Nagy, anthropologist, professor, head of the folklore and anthropology department
  • Independent researchers
    • Anna Baydullina – linguist, doctoral student at the department of Finno-Ugric studies, at the moment a journalist
    • Dr. Tatyana Minniyakhmetova, folklorist & ethnologist, Innsbruck
    • Evgeni Badretdinov, History and ethnology student, participation in fieldwork

The team has several assets:

It is interdisciplinary

The fields represented are anthropology/ethnology, ethnography, religious studies, visual anthropology, folklore studies, ethnomusicology, sociology and linguistics. The cooperation of these disciplines has proven fruitful: although they are close to one another, they have different goals and use different methods.

Ethnography: We shall rely on both local ethnographers Ranus Sadikov’s and Tatiana Minniyakhmetova’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the field because of their previous work.

Anthropology/ Ethnology/Religious studies: Most of the participants (Toulouze, Niglas, Vallikivi, Nagy) are connected with ethnology/anthropology, some specialising in the anthropology of religion (Vallikivi, Nagy). All the anthropologists have worked previously in Russia. They all are acquainted with the region, and have made fieldwork in it before; we rely heavily on the religious anthropology specialists’ theoretical background to open our field to wider considerations.

Visual anthropology:  Visual anthropology is a vital field for the implementation of the documentation dimension of our programme. Liivo Niglas is a skilled visual anthropologist and documentary filmmaker. He films in a non-intrusive manner and is already known and appreciated in the region. He will lead the team in filmmaking.

Folklore studies: Folklore studies have very much focused on fieldwork, mythology, worldview, and customary practice, developing a fruitful dialogue with anthropologists. Nikolay Anisimov, while finishing his thesis, is already an experienced folklorist, having made extensive fieldwork trips to Udmurtia and to the Bashkortostan Udmurt. He has both worked on the ancestors’ cult and communication with the dead, as well as on folk songs collection and publication (Anisimov, Pchelovodova 2015).

Ethnomusicology: Ethnomusicology has its own methods, depending on the specificities of its object. Irina Pchelovodova is an experienced ethno-musicologist, skilled in editing folk songs. We have included within the goals of the project only the publication of “The Ritual Songs of the Eastern Udmurt”, although we will gather other songs as well, which will be included in a second volume.

Sociology: Maria Vyatchina has defended a MA thesis in sociology. She will follow questions of the community and identity-strengthening aspect of religious practice and will focus on this more political dimension of religious activity.

Linguistics: While our focus is certainly not on language, we rely on language for several outputs of our work: both songs and prayers have a textual dimension that will appear in the publications. We will rely on Udmurt dialectologists to ensure the scientific relevance of this aspect.

This interdisciplinary team should be able to cover all the main points of our programme.

The team is multi-ethnic and multi-lingual

Our team is multi-ethnic, which ensures the multiplicity of points of view in dialogue between themselves. We have Udmurts belonging to the investigated ethnic group, who are total insiders (Ranus Sadikov, Tatyana Minniyakhmetova). There are in the team Udmurts from Udmurtia or Tatarstan, so still Udmurts, but from a different ethnic group, so partly insiders and partly not. Nevertheless, they are able to make fieldwork in the native language of the informants. And the foreigners are total outsiders; the permanent dialogue of these point of view enriches the scientific performance of the team.

Multilingualism in research is, for us, an obligation not only in order to spread efficiently the results of our work, but also in order to diversify and enrich the contents of our investigation. Too often we tend to forget how language sensitive our disciplinary fields are: the efficiency of the result depends on the way one writes. We argue that we have three obligations:

  1. We have to write in our mother tongues, because this guarantees the best results and the best quality, and, if needed, develops the range of use of the given tongue;
  2. We have to write in English, because it guarantees access to wider scholarly audiences and allows academic dialogue; we shall take care that the texts are well edited by a skilled native speaker;
  3. We have to write in languages that our informants understand, which means, in our case, Udmurt and Russian. Actually many of our informants are probably not able to read scholarly Udmurt, so the priority in this case will be to write in Russian, although we hope our team will be an active contributor to the local Udmurt paper Oshmes.

The team we have brought together ensures that these goals will be achieved.

They are already a team

We may say that most of the team has already been tested as a team. All members have already worked and/or written either with one or other of the team members. This previous readiness to work as a team ensures the quality of fieldwork and makes achieving the outputs of the project easier.

The role of the principle investigator

Eva Toulouze’s role as responsible for the project will be manifold:

  1. To bring together the team and ensure its functioning as a team;
  2. To stimulate the writing of cooperative articles;
  3. To carry out fieldwork and elaborate the data according to the needs of the project;
  4. To edit two books;
  5. To ensure the multilingual approach of the project outputs;
  6. To distribute the funding in compliance with the project aims