Religion and Beliefs
This work focuses on the contemporary religious revival among the indigenous people of the Altay Republic (Russian Federation). The Altaians reconnect with practices considered as traditional (Shamanism, Burkhanism), while exploring a more or less exogenous religious plurality (Buddhism, different branches of Orthodox and Evangelical Christianity, New Age movements). The choice of a national religion that could serve as a basis for the construction of a distinctive Altaian identity is a fundamental concern for the local intelligentsia. Political dimensions indeed do intersect with these different rearticulations of belief, and the competitive relationship between these movements especially takes shape in each particular understanding of the territory that each of them conveys. It is especially obvious within the seasonal rituals organized by the followers of neo-Shamanism and neo-Burkhanism.
Additionally, the analysis of the festival of the Altaian cultures points out how the Administration tries to unite all the indigenous peoples under the banner of a “national spirit”. This attempt nevertheless makes the event a typical legacy of the soviet celebrations of unity. A new way of using epic poetry emerges in this identity construction process. The Altaian epic is indeed part of ritual practices in many religious trends. Its revitalization, followed by a deep reshaping, can be instrumental in turning it into a “revealing” of Altaian identity that overcomes religious divisions and transcends aspirations of unity that emanates from the central government. It can also be perceived as a catalyst in distinguishing the Altay within the Siberian post-soviet space.