“On the edge of Siberia…”: Russian Old Timers in Some Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries Writings

Julia G. Khazankovich

M. K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University, Bld. 42, Kulakovsky St., Yakutsk, 677000, Russia. Email:

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.19

Received February 21, 2017; Revised April 17, 2017; Accepted April 20, 2017; Published May 7, 2017.


Autochthonous world of the Arctic aboriginal peoples is traditionally associated with the indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North – Yukaghirs, Chukchis, Evenks, and other ethnic groups including Russian old-timers (russkoustintsy and pokhodchane). Though being Russian in terms of language and ethnic identity, they are legally incorporated in Yakutia to the same category for being culturally close to the traditional cultures of the indigenous peoples of the North. The relevance of invoking this theme is due to the need for non-ideological interpretation of the problem concerned “Russian world”, which is a cultural and historical concept of the community that is engaged by its adherence to Russia, as well as to the Russian language and culture. Studying the essays by Valentin Rasputin, in particular, his essay “Russkoye Ustye”, as well as the book “Next to the Ice on the Edge of Oecumena: Russkoye Ustye. Return to Roots”, whose compiling editor is an old-timer, Russians’ descendant Igor Chikachyov, enables us to analyse the topic from the perspective of hermeneutic approach. Identifying the historical and aesthetic context of the essay by V. Rasputin and the book of Igor Chikachev about the culture of Russian old-timers of the Arctic allows drawing conclusion that their content was inspired by the search, the acquisition, and the postulation of existential foundations of Russian national mentality. Rasputin’s interest towards the culture of Russkoye Ustye, his meeting with the Russian old-timer Alexey Chikachyov allowed the writer to include in the essay his own ideological codes; to turn spatial and temporal realities into aesthetic coordinates (river, the Indigirka, the village of Russkyoe Ustye, tundra-sendukha).

 ?eywords: Arctic, Yakutia, Siberia, Russian old-timers, V. Rasputin, Chikachyov, essay, the indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North.

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