News  (July 2014)

The beginning of the year was tainted with sadness at the painful loss of Aleksandra Urkachan, the closest collaborator of Erich Kasten in Kamchatka. Her valuable contribution in documenting and sustaining the cultural heritage of her Koryak people will always be remembered fondly by her friends and colleagues both within and outside Kamchatka, and in particular by the Foundation for Siberian Cultures. » more

From March to April 2014, Erich Kasten continued his fieldwork in central Kamchatka on the project "The Potential Contribution of Indigenous Knowledge to Teaching and Learning Mathematics." This international project is based at the University of Fairbanks and is funded by the National Science Foundation. Kasten worked closely with seamstresses to document a number of their specific techniques, and he recorded their information in the Koryak and Even languages. The aim is to reveal underlying indigenous mathematical concepts through subsequent comparative analysis. During his stay among reindeer-herders near Esso, Kasten also documented indigenous knowledge about orienting oneself while out on the land and in the course of migrations.

Additional volumes were published at the Foundation for Siberian Cultures. A new series, "Transcultural Discourses", was established. It contains cross-cultural dialogues on worldviews, myths and landscapes in lyrics and in the arts, some of them extending beyond Siberia. A recently released first book in this series, "Natürlich, Mensch sein," authored by Ralf Wojtkowiak, is on poetry.  » more

The series "Languages and Cultures of the Russian Far East" has been further expanded by two more volumes. A first book, edited by Klavdiya Khaloimova, Michael Dürr and Erich Kasten, contains Itelmen (Kamchadal) texts that Vladimir Jochelson had collected in the years 1910-1911 along the west coast of Kamchatka. In this new edition, the texts can be read for the first time in the Itelmen script that is currently used, together with their Russian translations. The aim of this publication was to make these early and informative texts available in this way to the broader public and the indigenous community, where they are now actually being used as teaching materials and in Itelmen language classes. » more

A second volume of Even texts was published with the title "Even Tales, Songs and Worldviews." It focuses on the Evens of the Bystrinski district, in the central part of Kamchatka. The book contains a collection of Even texts that Erich Kasten, together with his local collaborators, recorded there in the years from 1997 to 2014. In combination with accompanying DVDs (with audio- and video-files of the recordings) this volume is aimed at sustaining indigenous language and knowledge in Kamchatka. To make the texts available to readers in other parts of the world, especially to northern communities outside Russia, in addition to Russian the book also contains English translations. Moreover, a latinized transcription of the texts has been posted on the internet for those with particular linguistic interests. In future years, further volumes will be published using this complex new format, which has been tested for some time and put into practice as last. These will contain data on the Even, Itelmen and Koryak languages and cultures. » more

The Foundation's most recent on-line show provides vivid views of magnificent natural landscapes landscapes in the Russian Far East. Ecologist Steffen Bohl takes us along on his journey through the UNESCO Natural World Heritage sites of Kamchatka.   » more

Archive of earlier activities  » more