Inversive Ambivalence: Traditions and Innovations in the Frontier Societies
Table of contents
Inversive Ambivalence: Traditions and Innovations in the Frontier Societies
Publication type
Sergey Yakushenkov 
Affiliation: Astrakhan State University
Address: Russian Federation, Astrakhan

The problem of the correlation between tradition and innovation has been on the agenda for decades. As a rule, traditions are perceived as an obligatory attribute of the traditional society opposing such notions as progress, modernization, etc. Modernization turns out to be an integral part of progress. In this article an attempt is made to get away from the conventions of antinomies of tradition and innovation. The author uses the concept of “nvented tradition” by Hobsbawm to show how, in the conditions of frontier liminality and transgression, the meanings of tradition and innovation are constantly changing, interchanged or complemented. The frontier actor finds himself in a new natural and cultural situation, when the only way to survive is to accept traditions of the Other, even if they are archaic ones, which become an innovation for him because they carry new cultural paradigms. Under these conditions, the actor is faced with the choice of several strategies of action, which only at first glance seem to be implemented in the linear opposition to archaism/modernism, but in fact combine both dimensions. The article discusses various variants of these strategies. All of them are illustrated with different examples. Only some variants of these strategies occupy the extreme points of opposition of conservatism/modernism. Two strategies have a hybrid character and easily occupy the whole semantic field, being either conservative or modernist, or being both, which turns them into special chimeras, which, as a rule, are difficult to unambiguously correlate from one side of the opposition. However, they are the essence of the majority of cultural processes in the frontier environment.

traditions, innovations, identity construction, ethnic culture, frontier, periphery, hybridity
Publication date
Number of characters
Number of purchasers
Readers community rating
0.0 (0 votes)
Cite Download pdf 200 RUB / 1.0 SU

To download PDF you should sign in

Full text is available to subscribers only
Subscribe right now
Only article and additional services
Whole issue and additional services
All issues and additional services for 2020


1. Vallerstajn I. Konstruirovanie naroda: rasa, natsiya, ehtnicheskaya gruppa // Balibar Eh., Vallerstajn I. Rasa, natsiya, klass. Dvusmyslennye identichnosti. M., 2004. C. 83—102.

2. Kirchanov M. V. Nezavisimost' kak «izobretennaya traditsiya» postkolonial'nogo obschestva (na primere Indonezii) // Gramota. 2016. № 3 (65): v 2-kh ch. Ch. 1. C. 89—92.

3. Makashova A. S. Gosudarstvennye prazdniki v istorii kul'tury Rossii i kontseptsiya «Izobreteniya traditsii» Eh. Khobsbauma // Obschestvo. Sreda. Razvitie (Terra Humana). 2013. № 4 (29). S. 114—118.

4. Ssorin-Chajkov N. V. Ot izobreteniya traditsii k ehtnografii gosudarstva: Podkamennaya Tunguska, 1920-e gg. // Zhurnal issledovanij sotsial'noj politiki. 2011. № 1. S. 7—44.

5. Terner F. Dzh. Frontir v amerikanskoj istorii. M., 2009.

6. Khobsbaum Eh. Izobretenie traditsij // Vestnik Evrazii. 2000. № 1. C. 47—62.

7. Yakushenkov S. N., Yakushenkova O. S. «Vlast' zemli»: formirovanie novoj inakovosti v usloviyakh frontira // Zhurnal frontirnykh issledovanij. 2016. № 1. S. 9—21.

8. Yakushenkov S. N. In Frontier We Trust // Zhurnal frontirnykh issledovanij. 2019. № 3. P. 12—59.

9. Andrade O. de. A Utopia Antropofagica, San Paulo, 1990.

10. Ben-Amos D. The Seven Strands of Tradition: Varieties in Its Meaning in American Folklore Studies // Journal of Folklore Research. Vol. 21. № 2-3. 1984. Culture, Tradition, Identity Conference, March 26—28. 1984. R. 97—131.

11. Forbes J. D. Frontiers in American History and the Role of the Frontier Historian // Ethnohistory. 1968. № 15 (2). P. 203—235.

12. Gellner E. Nations and Nationalism. N. Y., 2008.

13. Hobsbawm E., Ranger T. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge, 2012.

14. Kaplan D. E., Dubro A. Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld. Los Angeles, 2003.

15. Keesing R. M. Kastom and Anticolonialism on Malaita: ‘Culture’ as Political Symbol // The Australian Journal of Anthropology. 2009. Vol. 13. № 4. R. 357—373.

16. Keesing R. M. Creating the Past: Custom and Identity in the Contemporary Pacific // The Contemporary Pacific. 1989. № 1 (1-2). R. 19—42.

17. Lamar H., Thompson L. Comparative Frontier History // H. Lamar, & L. Thompson (Eds.), The Frontier in History: North America and Southern Africa compared, 1981. New Haven. P. 3—14.

18. Morris M. Concise dictionary of social and cultural anthropology. Oxford, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2012.

19. Philibert J.-M. The Politics of Tradition: Toward a Generic Culture in Vanuatu // Mankind. 1986. Vol. 16. №. 1. P. 1—12.

20. Redfield R. Peasant society and culture; anthropological approach to civilization. Chicago, 1956.

21. Rodríguez I. The Places of Tradition: Modernity/Backwardness, Regionalism/Centralism, Mass/Popular, Homogeneous/Heterogeneous // CR: The New Centennial Review. 2001. Vol. 1. №. 1. R. 55—74.

22. Seymour-Smith Ch. Macmillan dictionary of anthropology. L., 1986.

23. Shils E. Tradition and Liberty: Antinomy and Interdependence // Ethics. 1958. Vol. 68. № 3 P. 153—165.

24. Shils E. Tradition. Chicago, 1981.

25. Slotkin R. Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-century America. Norman, 1998.

26. Sunderland W. Russians into Iakuts? “Going Native” and Problems of Russian National Identity in the Siberian North, 1870s — 1914 // Slavic Review. 1996. Vol. 55. № 4. P. 806—825.

27. Trevor-Roper H. The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland // Hobsbawm E., Ranger T. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge, 2012. P. 15—41.

28. Turner F. J. The Frontier in American history. N. Y., 1920.

29. Wilson P. J. The Promising Man // Man, New Series, 1975. Vol. 10. № 1. P. 5—20.

30. Zheng H. On Modernity's Changes to “Tradition”: A Sociological Perspective // History and Theory. Vol. 51. № 4. 2012. Theme Issue 51: Tradition and History. P. 105—113.


No posts found

Write a review