Material culture of Belarusian migrants in the Bratsk district: identity markers

Fedorov R.Yu. (Tyumen, Russian Federation), Abolina L.A. (Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation)


              page 147–155


At the beginning of the 20th century, migrants from Belarus, Ukraine and the Pskov province founded a number of settlements in the territory of the Central Angara region. Migrants brought with them the specific features of their traditional culture and economic activity, which were different from those typical for the local Russian population. The empirical basis for the research was formed by the materials of an ethnographic expedition conducted in 2017 in the territory of the Bratsk district (Irkutsk region, Russia). The research was aimed at identifying various markers of the ethnocultural identity of Belarusian peasant migrants in their material culture and at investigating the interactions of Belarusians with their ethnic environment. It is found that the ethnic identity of Belarusian migrant descendants is currently characterized by a high level of variability across different families. Certain representatives of the senior generation consider themselves as Belarusians. At the same time, the majority of informants emphasize in their oral stories that only their ancestors were Belarusians. The culture of food among the first Belarusian migrants had a number of distinct features. Thus, in comparison with Russian settlers, Belarusians tended to consume more vegetables, rye bread and pork. The first generation of the Belarusian migrants preferred to make clothes according to their ethnic traditions; however, the subsequent generations of migrants borrowed many clothing items from the local population, which were more practical for the local climatic conditions. A visual survey of dwellings and other buildings indicates that the national architecture of the Belarusian migrants still have a number of features introduced from their homeland. At the same time, these features have undergone certain transformations over the course of the 20th century, as a result of adaptation to a more severe climate and introduction of improved construction technologies. In comparison with the immovable objects of traditional material culture, the transformation of such cultural manifestations as cuisine and clothing is shown to be a more prolonged process.


Key words: Belarusians, Bratsk district, peasant resettlements, ethnocultural identity, subsistence, material culture.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2018-43-4-147-155




R.Yu. Fedorov,

Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation


L.A. Abolina

NPO «Krasnoyarsk Geoarcheology», Prospekt Mira, 25, build. 1, Krasnoyarsk, 660049, Russian Federation