Living with Koryak Traditions: Playing with Culture in Siberia

Alexander David King

Research output: Book/ReportBook

20 Citations (Scopus)


King addresses fundamental topics in anthropology–namely tradition and culture–with a careful, practical, and nuanced approach that he terms both semiotic and Boasian. He brings critical insight into the use of the concepts of culture and tradition in Russian Anthropology and among native people in Kamchatka, and by implication Russia in general and the broader global public. While anthropology of Siberia has typically focused on ethnicity and identity, King illustrates the variability of culture through ethnographic material on dance, museums/schools, and language teaching. The author debunks the immutable view of tradition and culture that is common in much social science, politics and lay public, in order to present a dynamic vision of tradition and culture that validates contemporary indigenous peoples' lived experience. While life is hard and social problems in Kamchatka are at times dire, King finds much to be optimistic about in the ways that local leaders are able to mobilize indigenous tradition to build moral communities of elders and youth. Dance groups, sewing clubs, and language classes thus index broader skill sets connected to individual and community well being.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLincoln
PublisherUniversity of Nebraska Press
Number of pages348
ISBN (Print)978-0-8032-3509-0
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2011


  • Indigenous people
  • Siberia
  • Kamchatka
  • Koryaks
  • tradition
  • culture
  • ethnic dance
  • schools


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