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Entre chamanisme, broderies et christianismes : (re)création d’identité chez les Nanaïs dans le bassin de l’Amour, Sibérie Extrême-Orientale

Abstract : Situated on both sides of the Russian-Chinese border, the Nanais are one of the populations living in the Amur region. In China, they are called Hezhe. From the Manchu incursion in the northern part of this region, which was followed by the different Russian attempts at colonization, the Nanais have adapted their way of life, culture and religion as the Amur went through economic, geopolitical and social changes. On both sides of the frontier, as a political and research topic, undergoing russification since the second half of the 19th century, and sinicization before that, the fragmented cultural “identity” of the Nanais is the reflection of these different issues. In this PhD thesis in anthropology, I endeavor to analyze the different modes of expression of « identity » used by the Nanais or the Hezhe to study how disruptions or continuities brought by the region’s recent history to a culture considered as traditional are addressed. In Russia, until the 1970s, according to the Nanai religious shamanistic system, the souls of the living and of the dead were dealt with by a shaman and by complex sets of rituals. Following the end of the soviet regime, since the end of the 1990s, the shamans have disappeared. As a result of their disappearance, to the russification of the way of life and to the arrival of orthodox and protestant missionaries, the Nanai religious practices have become plural. This can be seen in the ritual adaptations made to compensate the shamans’ absence, in the cultural elements considered as essentially “Nanai”, and in the conversions to different forms of Christianity. The question of the perception – be it emic or not – of the Nanai “identity” can therefore be raised. This thesis is divided into three parts. The first one focusses on the transformations brought to the funerary practices and their limits, seen in the presence of harmful souls and spirits. The second one deals with the role of embroideries in the conception of a visible Nanai or Hezhe “identity,” staged for the “safeguarding” of practices considered as native. The third one centers on the conversions to Christian movements established in the region, to show two possible ways of becoming Christian, fluctuating between historical continuity and systemic disruption. The religious and cultural interactions give rise to different forms of indigenous appropriations which ensure the continuity of the shamanistic representations. The transformation of these practices also leads to the emic perception of a « loss » of culture. The question of the perception of disruptions or continuities regarding a culture considered as traditional lies in the analysis of these plural practices. The study of these different aspects enables my analysis to be centered on three main themes: 1) the analysis of the dealing with the spirits and the souls highlights the historical continuity of Nanai shamanistic representations while also underlining the emic perception of the “loss” of culture considered as traditional; 2) the identification of practices considered as essentially “Nanai”, “Hezhe” and/or “traditional” raises the question of what it means to “be Nanai” today (for the Nanais themselves and for the non-Nanais); 3) the adaptation of shamanistic practices and the adoption of new ones show an ambivalent and changing position concerning the desire to break with shamanistic representations or to maintain some of their features. In the study of the funerary adaptations, of cultural demonstrations and of conversions to different forms of Christianity, these three themes show that the plurality of practices actually convey different modes of expressions of the contemporary Nanai “identity”.
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Anne Dalles Maréchal. Entre chamanisme, broderies et christianismes : (re)création d’identité chez les Nanaïs dans le bassin de l’Amour, Sibérie Extrême-Orientale. Religions. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2020. Français. ⟨NNT : 2020UPSLP012⟩. ⟨tel-02870550⟩

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