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Lisa C. Dierker; Justine B. Quijada; Jennifer Rose






During the summer of 2012, anthropologist of religion Justine Quijada and colleagues collected ethnographic and survey data at five shamanic ceremonies led by a religious organization in Buryatia named Tengeri. The goal of this interdisciplinary research was to examine—through both quantitative and qualitative lenses—the ways in which these rituals provide a space for individuals in Buryatia to engage with the elements of traditional Buryat religion and culture that had been suppressed during the Soviet period. This work represents the first attempt to place these various methodological approaches in conversation with one another to provide a more holistic understanding as to why individuals choose to attend Tengeri’s ceremonies. In line with the ethnographic fieldwork analyzed by Quijada, it was found that individuals who attend these ceremonies report behavior patterns consistent with traditional Buryat culture—such as Buryat language use and past shamanic practice—at much higher rates than the population of Buryatia more broadly. Additionally, significant cultural differences were identified between individuals who attended Tengeri’s small ceremonies and those who attended the organization’s large ceremony on Olkhon Island. Moreover, statistical analyses revealed a striking contrast with regard to attendance choice between self-reported ethnicity and one’s connection to Buryat culture. As such, the data mining techniques and empirical analyses used in this work not only bolster the ethnographic hypotheses developed by Quijada and colleagues but also identify areas for future academic research.



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