THE HOSTAGES OF THE 'IMAGINED PAST'. PROBLEMS OF ETHNIC AND CULTURAL IDENTITY AMONG THE GURAN MINORITY IN EASTERN SIBERIA (Zakladnicy 'wyobrazonej przeszlosci'. Problemy tozsamosci etnicznej i kulturowej Guranów zabajkalskich w Syberii Wshodniej)
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The article aims to present the role of the 'imagined past' in the development of the identity among the Guran community in Eastern Siberia. The group under analysis created a unique culture with strong Evenk and Buryat elements. The Gurans played a specific social role (Cossacks); they held the status of local Russians despite mixed origin. Their complex identity structure, with ethnic, racial, social and political elements, is very specific. The myth of the role played by the Guran ancestors in the conquest of Siberia formed the base of their identity. Russification and westernisation of the past did not interfere with the existence of eastern elements in the culture of the Gurans. We are dealing with a community, which actively configures events of the past, in this way creating concepts, which integrate the group. The Gurans can offer such an account of the events, which incorporates their history into the general trend of Russian history (the conquest of Siberia, fight against communism), without eliminating elements of Buryat and Evenk cultures.
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