“If You Want to Have a Future You Have to Have a Good Relationship to Your Past”
Applying J. L. Austin’s distinction between constative and performative speech to history-making offers terminology for studying how knowledge about the past is produced and wielded in the present. In drawing a distinction between a historical event as a constative fact and the performative effect of talking about that historical event in the present, scholars can identify historical genres. Just as literary genres are defined by chronotopes (the relationship between time, space, and the hero), so too historical genres can be defined by chronotopes. By indexing these chronotopes, ritual can work to situate people within time and space. In post-Soviet Buryatia, rituals become spaces where people can explore alternative chronotopes and re-evaluate the past. The chapter offers key background information and argues that the stakes of history are higher both in post-authoritarian contexts and among indigenous peoples.
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