Religious Diversity for the Sake of Ethnic Unity? Shamanism and Buddhism in Creating Buryat Ethnic Identity
Ewa Nowicka 1  
,   Wojciech Poleć 2  
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Collegium Civitas
Warsaw University of Life Sciences
Publication date: 2019-06-19
Polish Sociological Review 2019;206(2):237–248
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, religious revival has played an important role in the changes taking place in the lives of peoples who inhabit Siberia. Religion has been regarded as one of the most important factors shaping national consciousness and, at the same time, one of the primary means through which national identity can be expressed. Nonetheless, religious diversity can affect this process of forging national bonds. Buryats are a culturally diverse people, divided along religious lines, thus engendering problems when a religious system is implemented for the purposes of modern nation building. Some Buryats advocate for the universal adoption of Buddhism, while others advocate shamanistic beliefs. Tensions arise from the fact that shamanism is prevalent throughout the lands occupied by ethnic Buryats while Buddhism is in fact territorially limited; the latter, however, is still institutionally and territorially more significant.