Long Night at the Vepsian Museum: The Forest Folk of Northern Russia and the Struggle for Cultural Survival
This book takes readers to the village of Sheltozero in northern Russia. It highlights a tiny community of indigenous people called Veps, known colloquially as "the forest folk" for their intense closeness and affiliation with the forests in their ancestral territories. Davidov uses a tour of the local museum to introduce a cast of human and non-human characters from traditional Vepsian culture, while journeying through various eras under Russian, Finnish, Soviet, and post-Soviet rule. In the process, she explores how contemporary political struggles mesh with traditional beliefs, illustrating how Veps make meaning of their history and unfolding future.
A documentary entitled Museum Night is available for instructors who wish to incorporate it into their teaching.
- Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom
- World Rights
- Page Count: 160 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.3in x 9.0in
"Long Night at the Vepsian Museum is an ethnography that documents the history and current cultural struggles of the Veps people, a Finno-Ugric speaking minority community that lives in Russia’s Karelia region, on the border with Finland."
"Long Night at the Vepsian Museum, is a well-written and engaging contribution to the literature on Post-Soviet Russia and indigenous cultural production. Moreover, the book’s accessibility and clean prose will make it of interest to not only scholars of these fields, but also undergraduate educators looking for a snappy and thought-provoking syllabus addition."
A. Lorraine Kaljund
"By juxtaposing relations between Veps craftspeople and the czarist and soviet states with traditions of reciprocity with master spirits that ensured Karelia’s natural bounty, Davidov offers an altogether new paradigm for understanding Indegeneity in the modern world."
E. J. Vajda
Choice Connect, June 2018 vol. 55 # 10
"One of Davidov’s strengths lies in the place that she chose as a base for fieldwork: the local museum. Despite the idea that such institutions present only rigid, official discourses about real and lively cultures, what Davidov successfully reveals is that behind the facade of public exhibitions, there is an important vein of hidden and non-official cultural knowledge transfer and production taking place."
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
"Davidov uses a small Vepsian museum on a northern Russian lake as a compelling site for reflections on indigeneity, statecraft, and history. Highly recommended!"
Bruce Grant, New York University
"In clear and compelling prose, Davidov weaves together experiences of past and present, cosmology and politics, and nature and culture among 'the forest folk' of northern Russia. The result is at once a magnificent account of cultural survival in and after the Soviet Union, and a highly innovative contribution to scholarship about global indigeneity in the twenty-first century."
Douglas Rogers, Yale University
"This important contribution to anthropology, indigenous studies, and museology offers a rich ethnographic and historical account of a twenty-first century Vepsy community. Beginning and ending in the 'living history museum' in which Veps and visitors engage with this community's complex past, it tells a compelling story of a people contending with the legacy of others' imaginings alongside the remembered and lived realities of who they are."
Andrew Walsh, Western University
Author InformationVeronica Davidov is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Monmouth University. She is the suthor of Ecotourism and Cultural Production: An Anthropology of Indigenous Spaces in Ecuador (2013).
Table of contents
List of Illustrations
1. History and Memory
2. Vepsian Cosmologies
3. Spruce Eyelashes and Blue Eyes of Lakes
4. The Bad Masters
5. The Long Night of Museums
Subjects and Courses