Data Collecting and Analytic Approaches towards the Oral Memory of the Human-Landscape Relations in the Mongolian Altai

Ondřej Srba & Michal Schwarz

Data Collecting and Analytic Approaches towards the Oral Memory of the Human-Landscape Relations in the Mongolian Altai

Alternative shorter title:

Data and approaches to the mapping of movement patterns in the Mongolian Altai

(65th Meeting Astana, 2023)

This paper contributes by presentation of long-term research of oral history and oral tradition among the Altai Uriankhais and related ethnic groups in the Mongolian Altai Range. It builds upon acquired results of one-decade-long previous annually repeated fieldwork. In the implementation of a new grant,[1] the intensified data collection covering local micro-histories and movement patterns will help to analyze adaptative strategies of mobile pastoralists in geographical heart of Altaic world on the crossroad of Turko-Mongolic areas in the course of past one hundred years.

Importance of the research responds to the situation, when most available data about the impact of political and environmental changes in endangered ecosystem come from external or secondary sources[2] while direct primary sources from inside the communities have been largely neglected or studied only in a fragmented incidental way. Identities of these marginalized groups have been significantly shaped by migrations influenced by more factors and the understudied memory of local people is in danger of being lost. Traces of migrations and changing seasonal movement patterns in oral genealogies enable us to study former analogic processes forming Altaic groups, wider communities and even empires. It is a paradox, that there is not only the lack of knowledge about the details of these processes in ancient history. The same knowledge gap remains even for recent period. The presented research intends to cover this gap in an integrated interdisciplinary evaluation of oral sources and visualization of collected data about mobility in the digital database. The research will help to 1) describe human-animal-landscape relationship of Altai Range-centered ethnic groups through the dynamic complex of their own identity-shaping oral memory. 2) It might also inspire the study of similar processes in Altaic populations in deeper history.

  1. Project Changing Adaptive Strategies of Mobile Pastoralists in Mongolia financed by the Czech Science Foundation.
  2. Archives of central institutions, ethnographic descriptions etc.