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Udmurt culture researchers win Uralic Ethnic Studies Award

The 2023 Uralic Ethnic Studies Award was awarded to Eva Toulouze and Nikolai Anisimov for their research into 21st century Udmurt culture.

Since 2012, the Kindred Peoples’ Programme of the Ministry of Education and Research has been awarding a Uralic Ethnic Studies Award to recognise the research work of stateless indigenous Uralic peoples.

This year, the award was won by Eva Toulouze and Nikolai Anisimov for the compilation and editing of their two-volume work «Современная удмуртская культура I, II» (‘Contemporary Udmurt Culture I, II’, 2020-21). The expert jury of the award pointed out that this is a novel collection, because instead of the usual past-focused approach, the study focused on contemporary Udmurt culture marks a paradigmatic shift in the mapping of the Finno-Ugric cultural field. The collection is a collaboration with Udmurt scholars and looks at various aspects of 21st century Udmurt culture: social processes and political conditions, language, literature, ethnomusicology, folk traditions, etc. It is a study of Udmurt culture in the 21st century. ‘Some of our Udmurt colleagues even needed clarification of what we mean by contemporary Udmurt culture’, says Nikolai Anisimov, one of the authors of the collection.

According to Anisimov, who works as a researcher at the Estonian Literary Museum, the idea for the collection came from a personal connection as well as from inspiring colleagues: ‘I am Udmurt and I see how Udmurt culture is changing and developing today, and it affects me too. My Estonian colleagues are engaged in contemporary and progressive cultural studies and have reacted quickly to the different events and phenomena that are happening here and now. This has also helped to focus my attention on the fact that, while it is important to study the past of popular culture, it is also important to keep in mind the rapidly changing realities of today.’

Eva Toulouze and Nikolai Anisimov have worked closely together since 2016 and are described as passionate cultural researchers. ‘I am very grateful to Eva for her constant willingness to always help, to evolve and to get better. Her special love and attention to the Udmurt people is invaluable as it opens up entirely new facets of Udmurt culture and her research has made a significant contribution to the study of the rich cultural heritage of both Udmurtia and the Finno-Ugric peoples more broadly. Eva is a loyal friend and a wise colleague’, says Anisimov, describing his collaboration with Toulouze. Their next project is to publish a study on the religion and culture of the Udmurt people of the Kama.

The laureates would like to thank the ethnographer Elena Popova, who helped edit the collection, all the authors of the articles, the Estonian Literary Museum, especially Mare Kõiv for her support, and Tallinn University Publishing House, which published the book.

Eva Toulouze is a Research Fellow in Ethnology at the University of Tartu and Professor of Finno-Ugric Studies at the Institute of Eastern Languages and Cultures (INALCO) in Paris. Nikolai Anisimov is an Udmurt folklorist and researcher of folk culture, working at the Estonian Literary Museum since 2017. Anisimov has also been recognised with the National Sciences Prize of the Kindred Peoples’ Programme in 2019 for his monograph «Диалог миров» в матрице коммуникативного поведения удмуртов» / ‘World Dialogue in the Matrix of Udmurt Communicative Behaviour’ (Tartu, 2017).

The Uralic Ethnic Studies Award is awarded since 2012. The award is open to monographs, collections or compilations published within the last four years. The winners are selected by a panel of experts and approved by the Evaluation Committee of the Kindred Peoples’ Programme. The award amounts to €1,250.

The second category of the competition, the Scientific Research Published In A Uralic Language Award, which recognises research published in Uralic languages, did not award a prize this time.


Marika Alver

Kindred Peoples’ Programme Coordinator