Siberi eestlaste kohanemisest ja sulandumisest parimusainese pohjal
ON THE ADAPTATION AND ACCULTURATION OF ESTONIANS IN SIBERIA ON THE BASIS OF FOLKLORE MATERIAL
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Migration researchers in different countries have noticed that while first-generation immigrants tend to remain loyal to the culture of their birth country, for the succeeding generations the scales are shifting in favour of the new country of residence. Here, the attitudes of the representatives of the minority culture towards the ethnic culture and the minority policy of the new country of residence play an important role. The article presents an analysis, based on folklore material collected during the past few decades, of the adaptation and acculturation of the descendants of the Estonians who migrated to Siberia over a century ago, in their new homeland. The analysed material proceeds from the cultural and language contacts of Estonians. In any conflict of cultures, both the individual and the lore group as a whole employ their own cultural insignia in their attempts to conceptualize the other party. Narrative plots, minor forms of folklore, song tunes, and other types of lore easily transcend language and political boundaries; at the same time, folklore remains an important factor of ethnic self-identification in a multicultural environment. Siberian Estonians communicated in their native tongue within their lore group; also, the tradition was initially spread in the Estonian language. Adaptation in a new place of residence is about accepting the new environment in one’s life and, among other things, about encompassing new cultural elements. Transforming a foreign place into one’s own is facilitated by telling stories about the first settlers in the new homeland or explaining the origin of local toponyms. Living within a cross-cultural contact area often results in the construction of multiple national identities or a change in identity, and it has been known to inspire folk tales. Next to Lutheran peoples (Finns, Germans, Latvians), who were regarded as “own”, and Russians, the contacts of Siberian Estonians with other neighbouring peoples gradually intensified. The “others” with their different customs and traditions were noticed and judged according to own established standards. Once the Estonians became better acquainted with these “others”, various proverbial phrases, language-based humour, and other types of folklore began to emerge. As the Estonians had the closest contacts with their Russian-speaking neighbours, the Russian language became the source for the majority of language jokes. The Estonians living in multiethnic villages were quicker to adopt foreign traditions, with mixed marriages being a contributing factor. Quite a telling sign is also the fact that Estonians in Siberia today tend to refer to themselves as siberlane, or ‘Siberian’.
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