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Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 26

 

TYNEVIL’S WRITING: MICRO-HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF AN INVENTION

Elena Davydova

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences
3 Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, Russia
Elenav0202()gmail.com

Abstract: This paper investigates the case of the a Chukchi man, Tynevil, and his invention of a writing system in 1920s. The phenomenon is analyzed not from a linguistic, but rather from an anthropological point of view. The goal of the article is to approach an understanding of how the writing was used, what the causes and consequences of this use were, and what the sociocultural context of its invention and application was. I interpret the data about Tynevil and his signs by using micro-historical approach. An analysis of Tynevil’s biography and historical context during the second quarter of the XX century leads to the conclusion that the invention was a kind of compromise for the creator, a form of the dialogue with the Soviet state, and an attempt to adapt to the social changes that were taking place in the Chukotka region at that time. In the context of the Chukchi’s wary and sometimes hostile attitude toward Russians’ capacity to write and moreover forcible liquidation of illiteracy among local people, Tynevil created written signs himself. Imitating the writing systems of “other cultures”, he ultimately created an alternative one — the Chukchi’s “own” writing.

Keywords: Chukotka, Siberian Studies, Tynevil, writing systems, history of writing, political resistance.

To cite: Davydova E., 'Pismena Tynevilya: mikroistoricheskiy analiz odnogo izobreteniya' [Tynevil’s Writing: Micro-historical Analysis of an Invention], Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 26, pp. 171–206.

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/026/davydova.pdf