It is our understanding that some Russian participants have the possibility of financial assistance for travel costs and a reduced registration and membership fee. But time is short. The deadline for submitting abstracts is 15 January 2017. The language of the congress is English. If you are interested, please send a brief abstract of your paper (2000 characters) and your contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This ICASS section aims to refocus scientific attention on indigenous customs and beliefs associated with bears and on the persistence or revival of bear ceremony traditions by identifying new insights from current ethnographic, historical, archaeological, folkloric and linguistic research as well as laying out directions for future study. In this regard, of special value are reports of recent fieldwork, examples of productive interdisciplinary work, and substantially new perspectives on historical materials, outside western Siberia.
The relationship between bears and humans is at the core of some of the oldest forms of cultural activity. Across the north, the Bear is the principal other-than-human person, sometimes an ancestor, always the Master of the Forest with a leading role in managing life in the taiga. The ritual hunting and killing of a designated Bear, who is understood to offer himself to men for just this purpose, is followed by an elaborate ‘sending home’ ceremony, where the bear as honored guest is celebrated for one or more days with songs, dances, folk drama, before being sent back to his sky-home.
In the last 100 years, new sources of information, new lines of research and new forms of documentation have been developed. Over the same period both the physical and the sociocultural environments have changed dramatically for those indigenous peoples with bear ceremony traditions. Many of these changes have taken place right here in Russia in the last century. In some places, these traditions are under stress or have already disappeared.