Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-q6bj7 Total loading time: 0.369 Render date: 2022-12-05T06:01:28.655Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Re-enacting “Cossack roots:” embodiment of memory, history, and tradition among young people in southern Russia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Anton Popov*
School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK. Email:


This article draws upon ethnographic research which was conducted among young Cossacks (members of officially registered and informal Cossack clubs) in southern Russia. It presents young people's participation in the Cossack “nativism” as a physical and material mode of socialization into the mnemonic community. The research puts forward an argument that such corporal and sensorial experiences is effective in recruiting some young members to the Cossack movement. At the same time, the performative character of neo-Cossack identity destabilizes contemporary Cossacks' claims of authenticity related to the status of the legitimate heirs of historical Cossackdom. At the more general level of discussion this paper juxtaposes bodily activities, social memory, and revivalist discourses.

Copyright © 2017 Association for the Study of Nationalities 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Almazov, Boris, Novikov, Vladimir, and Manzhola, Adolf. 1999. Kazaki. St. Petersburg: Zolotoi Vek and Diamant.Google Scholar
Appleby, Ian. 2010. “Uninvited Guests in the Communal Apartment: Nation-formation Processes among Unrecognized Soviet Nationalities.” Nationalities Papers 38 (6): 847864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arnold, Richard. 2014. “Testing Constructivism: Why Not More ‘Cossacks’ in Krasnodar Kray?Post-Soviet Affairs 30 (6): 481502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bar-On, Dan, and Gilad, Noga. 1994. “To Rebuild Life: A Narrative Analysis of Three Generations of an Israeli Holocaust Survivor's Family.” In Exploring Identity (The Narrative Study of Lives, Vol. 2), edited by Lieblich, Amia, and Josselson, Ruthellen, 83112. London: Sage.Google Scholar
Boeck, Brian. 1998. “The Kuban’ Cossack Revival (1989–1993): The Beginnings of a Cossack National Movement in the North Caucasus Region.” Nationalities Papers 26 (4): 633657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boeck, Brian. 2004. “From the Verge of Extinction to Ethnic Distinction: Cossack Identity and Ethnicity in the Kuban’ Region, 1991–2002.” Ab Imperio 2004: 617645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bondar', Nikolai. 2003. “Kubanskoe kazachestvo (etnosotsial'nyi aspect).” In Rossiiskoe kazachestvo: Nauchno-spravochnoe izdanie, edited by Tabolina, T. V., 241258. Moscow: Institut etnologii i antropologii RAN.Google Scholar
Boyarin, Jonathan. 1994. “Space, Time, and the Politics of Memory.” In Remapping Memory: The Politics of TimeSpace, edited by Boyarin, Jonathan, 137. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
Burmagin, Aleksandr. 2009. Ot Kubanskogo kazach'ego kluba k Kubanskoi kazachei Rade: Kratkaia istoriia nachala vozrozhdeniia kubanskogo kazachestva 1989–1992 gg. Krasnodar: OOO firma “Pul's-Soft”.Google Scholar
Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Cappelletto, Francesca. 2003. “Long-term Memory of Extreme Events: From Autobiography to History.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 9: 241260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Connerton, Paul. 1989. How Societies Remember. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Derluguian, Georgi M., and Cipko, Serge. 1997. “The Politics of Identity in a Russian Borderland Province: The Kuban Neo-Cossack Movement, 1989–1996.” Europe-Asia Studies 49 (8): 14851500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Diasio, Nicoletta. 2013. “Remembrance as Embodiment in Contemporary Polish Memories.” Polish Sociological Review 3 (183): 389402.Google Scholar
Gray, Ann. 2003. Research Practice for Cultural Studies: Ethnographic Methods and Lived Cultures. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gromov, Vladimir. 2002a. “Ne budet spokoistvia v dome kazaka, esli dom gortsa razrushen.” Kubanskie novosti, March 13.Google Scholar
Gromov, Vladimir. 2002b. “Kuban’ ne mozhet vmestit’ vsekh zhelaiushchikh.” Kuban’ segodnia, March 15.Google Scholar
Hamilakis, Yannis, and Labanyi, Jo. 2008. “Introduction: Times, Materiality, and the Work of Memory.” History and Memory 20 (2): 517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hirsch, Marianne. 1999. “Projected Memory: Holocaust Photographs in Personal and Public Fantasy.” In Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present, edited by Mieke Bal, Jonathan V. Crewe, and Spitzer, Leo, 323. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.Google Scholar
Holquist, Peter. 2009. “From Estate to Ethnos: The Changing Nature of Cossack Identity in the Twentieth Century.” Paper presented at the conference National Identity in Eurasia, Oxford, March 2324.Google Scholar
Humphrey, Caroline. 1999. “Traiders, ‘Disorder,’ and Citizenship Regimes in Provincial Russia.” In Uncertain Transition: Ethnographies of Change in the Postsocialist World, edited by Burawoy, Michael, and Verdery, Katherine, 1952. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
Koo, Ja-Jeong. 2012. “Universalising Cossack Particularism: ‘The Cossack Revolution’ in Early Twentieth Century Kuban'.” Revolutionary Russia 25 (1): 129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Koshik, Andrei, Kirillov, Dmitrii, and Dergachev, Vladimir. 2016. “‘Otrabatyvaem vse versii.’ Propavshikh v DNR i LNR opolchentsev nikto ne ishchet.”, January 5. Accessed August 1, 2016. Scholar
Kostiukova, Irina, and Ivanov, Gennadii. 2012. “Gubernator vozlagaet nadezhdu na kazakov.” Kazachii informatsionno-analiticheskii tsentr, August 7, 2012 [online]. Accessed September 28, 2016. Scholar
Laruelle, Marlene. 2016. “The Three Colors of Novorossiya, or the Russian Nationalist Mythmaking of the Ukrainian Crisis.” Post-Soviet Affairs 32 (1): 5574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Manuilov, Aleksander. 2007. Obychnoe pravo kubanskikh kazakov. St Petersburg: Aleteia.Google Scholar
Markedonov, Sergei. 2003. “Neokazachestvo na iuge Rossii: ideologiia, tsenosti, politicheskaia praktika.” Central Asia and Caucasus 29 (5): 161174.Google Scholar
Markedonov, Sergei. 2004. “Osnovnoi vopros kazakovedeniia: rossiiskaia istoriografiia v poiskakh ‘drevnego’ kazachestva.” Ab Imperio 2004: 529566.Google Scholar
Matveev, Oleg V. 2000. “K razrabotke Kontseptsii Kazach'ego Obrazovania.” Pedagogika 4: 100102.Google Scholar
Mauss, Marcel. [1935] 1973. “Techniques of the Body.” Economy and Society 2 (1): 7088.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Narvaez, Rafael F. 2006. “Embodiment, Collective Memory and Time.” Body and Society 12 (3): 5173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nikitin, Valerii. 2007. Kazachestvo: natsiia ili soslovie? Moscow: “Yauza.” “Eksmo”.Google Scholar
Olson, Laura J. 2004. Performing Russia: Folk Revival and Russian Identity. London: Routledge Curzon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Osipov, Aleksander. 1999. Rossiiskii opyt etnicheskoi diskriminatsii: meskhetintsy v Krasnodarskom krae. Moscow: Pravozaschitnyi tsentr “Memorial”.Google Scholar
Osipov, Aleksander, and Cherepova, Olga. 1996. Narushenie prav vynuzhdennyh migrantov i etnicheskaia diskriminatsia v Krasnodarskom krae (polozhenie meskhetinskih turok). Moscow: Pravozashchitnyi tsentr “Memorial”.Google Scholar
Pine, Frances, Kaneff, Deema, and Haukanes, Haldis. 2004. “Introduction. Memory, Politics and Religion: A Perspective on Europe.” In Memory, Politics and Religion: The Past Meets the Present in Europe, edited by Frances Pine, Deema Kaneff, and Haukanes, Haldis, 129. Münster: Lit Verlag.Google Scholar
Popov, Anton. 2012. “Re-making a Frontier Community or Defending Ethnic Boundaries? The Caucasus in Cossack Identity.” Europe-Asia Studies 64 (9): 17391757.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Popov, Anton, and Kuznetsov, Igor. 2008. “Ethnic Discrimination and the Discourse of ‘Indigenization': The Regional Regime, ‘Indigenous Majority’ and Ethnic Minorities in Krasnodar Krai in Russia.” Nationalities Papers 36 (2): 223252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ratushniak, Valerii, ed. 2011. Entsiklopediya kubanskogo kazachestva. Krasnodar: Traditsiia.Google Scholar
Sarkisova, Oksana, and Shevchenko, Olga. 2011. “'They Came, Short Everyone, and That's the End of It': Local Memory, Amateur Photography, and the Legacy of State Violence in Novocherkassk.” Slavonica 17 (2): 85102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skinner, Barbara. 1994. “Identity Formation in the Russian Cossack Revival.” Europe-Asia Studies 46 (6): 10171037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skorik, Aleksander. 2008. Mnogolikost’ kazachestva Iuga Rossii v 1930-e gody: Ocherki istorii. Rostov-on-Don: Izdatel'stvo SKNTs VSh YuFU.Google Scholar
Slezkine, Yuri. 1996. “The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism.” In Becoming National. A Reader, edited by Eley, Geoff, and Suny, Ronald G., 202238. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Starman, Hannah. 2006. “Generations of Trauma: Victimhood and the Perpetuation of Abuse in Holocaust Survivors.” History and Anthropology 17 (4): 327338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tishkov, Valerii. 1989a. “O novykh podkhodakh v teorii i praktike mezhnatsionalnykh otnoshenii.” Sovetskaia etnografiia 5: 34.Google Scholar
Tishkov, Valerii. 1989b. “O kontseptsii perestroiki mezhnatsionalnykh otnoshenii v SSSR. Redaktsionnyi komentarii k rubrike ‘Navstrechu plenumu po sovershenstvovaniiu mezhnatsionalnykh otnoshenii v SSSR'.” Sovetskaia etnografiia 1: 7389.Google Scholar
Tishkov, Valerii A. 1997. Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict In and After the Soviet Union: The Mind Aflame. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Toje, Hege. 2006. “Cossack Identity in the New Russia: Kuban Cossack Revival and Local Politics.” Europe-Asia Studies 58 (7): 10571077.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tutsenko, Natal'ia. 2001. “Kazach'e dvizhenie Kubani: na puti k grazhdanskomu obshchestvu.” Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia 2: 3545.Google Scholar
Verkhovskii, Aleksander, Mikhailova, Ekaterina, and Pribylovskii, Vladimir. 1999. Politicheskaia ksenofobiia: radikal'nye gruppy, predstavleniia liderov, rol’ Tserkvi. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo OOO “Panorama”.Google Scholar
Waterston, Alisse, and Rylko-Bauer, Barbara. 2006. “Out of the Shadows of History and Memory: Personal Family Narratives in Ethnographies of Rediscovery.” American Ethnologist 33 (3): 397412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wulff, Helena. 2005. “Memories in Motion: The Irish Dancing Body.” Body and Society 11 (4): 4562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Re-enacting “Cossack roots:” embodiment of memory, history, and tradition among young people in southern Russia
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Re-enacting “Cossack roots:” embodiment of memory, history, and tradition among young people in southern Russia
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Re-enacting “Cossack roots:” embodiment of memory, history, and tradition among young people in southern Russia
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *