Sub-ethnic groups of the Tuvans : problems of definition and research

Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy. 2017;0(1)


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

ISSN: 2079-8482 (Online)

Publisher: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races

Country of publisher: Russian Federation

Language of fulltext: Russian

Full-text formats available: PDF



Chimiza K. Lamazhaa (Московский гуманитарный университет)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 18 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

The article examines the research issues of studying sub-ethnic groups of the Tuvans, We proceed from the fact that the ethnic structure of the Tuvans is complex, and this complexity is due to the intricate ethnic and political history of the region. Problems of sub-ethnic differentiation and local ethnic groups as constituent parts of larger ethnicities have been debated in Russian ethnography and ethnology for a number of decades. Various interpretations of the term ‘sub-ethnic group’ have been suggested. We will construe it as a unity of people within a compact territory who view themselves as an organic part of their ethnicity, but recognize their difference from the rest of this ethnicity and have specific cultural features. A review of existing body of research on sub-ethnic groups of the Tuvan has revealed that there is no consensus on how many such groups exist within the Tuvan nation, or even which of these should be considered sub-ethnic. Soviet-time studies originally focused on consolidated Tuvan nation, but since the 1950s Tojin Tuvans have been studied as a separate sub-ethnicity. Meanwhile, Tuvans living outside the USSR were studied by foreign scholars. In the post-Soviet years, the issue of sub-ethnicities has been revitalized. Russian and Mongolian scholars have created a whole new ‘Southern’ direction in the study of Tuvan sub-ethnic groups in Mongolia and China. The ‘Northern’ direction is pursued less actively, with a body of Usinsk Tuvans living in the basin of the Us river in Krasnoyarskii Krai. Tojin Tuvans have attracted the attention primarily of foreign anthropologists as an indigenous minority. In the article, we focus on a number of research problems. The taxonomic units in the study of the sub-ethnicities have not received ample theoretical foundation. Various sub-ethnic groups have got unequal attention from scholars. There is a pronounced absence of comparative studies, and the information of Mongolian Tuvans is still fragmentary. It is unproductive to study ethnographic and ethnic groups separately by their territories and roles in the consolidation of their ethnicity. The history of structuring sub-ethnicities needs clarification against the general background of the ethnopolitical history of the Tuvans. We suggest that the Tojin Tuvans, Usinsk Tuvans, and the Mongolian Tuvans (Tsaatans, Darkhats and Uriankhais), as well as those in China, should all be viewed as sub-ethnic groups. A comprehensive dialogue on every aspect, starting from common theoretical background, has to be started between researchers working with various sub-groups of the Tuvans. Scholarship aimed at studying the preservation of traditional Tuvan culture must also fulfil the social mission of preserving and developing Tuvan traditions.