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Modern Tuvan Identity

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image of Inner Asia

After the collapse of the USSR, the Tuvans, in common with all the other non- Russian populations of the former Union, went through a period of radical reaction against Soviet norms. Perceiving themselves to be buried beneath the wreckage of Soviet rule, the Tuvans began strenuously to search for values and aspirations which could form a basis for new identities. The vacuum created by the dismantling of Soviet social and cultural systems began slowly to be filled with new possibilities for identity formation – connected to language, clan, family, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender and so on. Each of these social realms has its own meaning, and its own stimuli. This article discusses recent developments in contemporary Tuvan culture, under four interconnected headings: clan, family, ethnicity and religion. As will be seen, these in Tuva are the areas where values and cultural understandings intersect with political and economic constraints – and therefore where the conceptual and emotional attachments necessary to personal identification are formed.


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