Decoloniality and Russian Music: Finno-Ugric Legacies in Contemporary St. Petersburg

Authors

  • Anya Shatilova Wesleyan University

Abstract

This article presents two case studies examining the musical groups Talomerkit and Ingervala in the context of the late Soviet and post-Soviet reawakening of Finno-Ugric culture in St. Petersburg, Russia. Coming from different ethnic backgrounds, these two groups demonstrate different ways of engaging with local Finno-Ugric traditions. While Talomerkit uses a so-called tradition-based approach with minimal alteration of primary material, Ingervala looks for alternative stylistic choices through electric instruments and electronic sounds. Based on my fieldwork done in June 2018 and May 2019, I present ethnographic observations about Talomerkit and Ingervala’s musical activities and focus on issues related to the repatriation of Finno-Ugric musical heritage to a local community in St. Petersburg after the interruption of these traditional musical practices during the Soviet period. By using ethnomusicological approaches of decolonization, my aim is to foreground the voices of artists and activists who engage with the legacy of a small, non-Slavic Finno-Ugric population indigenous to the lands of present-day St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast. I argue that those autochthonous perspectives are instrumental in challenging the cultural discourse in Anglophone Russian music studies, which predominantly focuses on musical knowledge production through the lens of the Slavic population.

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Published

2023-12-18

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Section

Articles