The paper raises issue of Dorzhi Banzarov (1822-1855), the first Buryat scholar whose life from an early age belonged to public debates around empire, race, nationality, culture, oppression, inequality, religious identity, regress and progress. The paper is focused on biographical discourses around Banzarov, his personality and fate. Various authors and commentators in different epochs wrote of him as of a prodigy with barbarous appearance and European demeaner, the living evidence of salutary effect of European education on backward races, a patron of the Buryat ‘aliens’ protecting them from encroachments of the empire and Orthodox mission and, finally, the first Buryat socialist and materialist fallen victim to Tsardom and Church. Banzarov’s longer and meaningful life in numerous biographies seems to be more approachable for critical analysis and informative for comprehension of historical process. To look at the evolution of biographic discourse focused on one personality is obviously advantageous as it helps to grasp what otherwise remains obscure and hidden: change of generational paradigms, dimensions of thinking inertia, blurring borders between adjacent discourses and the issues of subjectivity. In Banzarov’s case, this approach demonstrates how in the works of his contemporaries, and later, Siberian regionalists, leaders of the Buryat national movement, Soviet ideologists, his image of sauvage civilisé evolved to a progressive pre-Marxist materialist anf anti-colonial icon. The papers traces how mythologized image of Dorzhi Banzarov continued to be instrumental in setting points of reference in relations between Russian imperial and Soviet officialdom and the Buryat ethnic minority through time and generations.
|Number of pages
|Acta Slavica Iaponica
|Published - Apr 2020
- Banzarov, Buriat, Russian empire, colonialism, Siberia, Siberian natives, Siberian regionalism, nationalism