Assignment trips to the North as an experience of communitas

Agapov M.G. (Tyumen, Russian Federation)


                 page 146153


The specific practice of assignment trips by teachers from large regional higher institutions to work in affiliated outposts operating in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Yugra and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in the 1990s to the first half of the 2000s is investigated. Under the conditions of the educational boom, expressed, in particular, in the large-scale branching of small northern cities, when almost all of them established networks of affiliated outposts, the rotation-based work of the faculty members became a mass phenomenon. Assignment trip to the North involved a rather radical, albeit temporary, change of lifestyle. It included three stages: 1) trip to the outpost; 2) life on the outpost; 3) return home. The passage by individuals through each of the stages can be correlated with the stages of the classic rite of passage highlighted by A. van Gennep (rites de passage). The first and third stages were associated with a long journey: the trip to the outpost corresponded to the separation phase (separation), during which the individual was detached from the social structure and certain cultural obligations of the home (family and head university), returning home the recovery phase (reaggregation), when individuals regain the rights and obligations of a structural type, forcing them to structure their behaviour in accordance with usual norms and ethical standards. On the basis of in-depth interviews of rotational teachers, their personal work and leisure experience at the outposts is reconstructed, the central point of which was the experience of being releasing from normative behaviour into communitas (in the meaning of V. Turner), which is expressed, in particular, in the temporary shift of norms and ethical standards. It is concluded that the experience of communitas was a specifically northern phenomenon, since it did not manifest itself under the conditions of the work of the same rotational teachers in other, not northern, affiliated outposts. In other words, the North represents in this case a special world of justification (in the meaning of L. Boltanski and L. Thevenot), with its own logic of substantiation of behaviour that cannot be reduced to the logic of other worlds.

Key words: affiliated branch, Assignment trip in the North, communitas, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Yugra, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2019-44-1-146-153


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Article is published 2.04.2019 .


M.G. Agapov

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