Three Years in a Cossack Khutor during the “Stagnation” Period: Ethnographer’s Notes in the Fields of Memoirs of a Rural Teacher. Part 2. Gender and Age Groups of the Khutor Community: Boundaries, Statuses, and Functions
Authors: Marina A. Ryblova
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This publication is a continuation of an article published earlier in the 1st issue of the journal for 2021. It is devoted to the memoirs of the three years spent by the author in a small Cossack khutor as a teacher of an 8-year school, supplemented by the author’s comments on them. The peculiarity of both parts of the publication is its belonging to the genre of “notes”, in which the author appears simultaneously as a person remembering and commenting. The second part of the publication presents the characteristics of the sex and age groups of the population of the Cossack khutor during the Soviet “stagnation”: young people of marriageable age, family and old people. The author defines the boundaries, statuses and functions of these groups, as well as identifies the changes that occurred with them in the Soviet period of our history in comparison with the pre-revolutionary time. Describing a group of young men of marriage age, the author reveals the peculiarities of the process of their self-organization in adapting to the conditions of growing up using many traditional forms inherited from the former community life of the Cossacks. Such forms include youth gatherings, practices of collective mutual assistance to those who find themselves in difficult living conditions, etc. The author shows that despite the fact that the farm youth found themselves without the care of the older generation (with the loss of their former moral principles and values), they still had the need to organize their own lives with the support of the youth collective. Within this collective, their own code of honor was formed, and behavioral stereotypes were constantly levelled. At the same time, it was not the Soviet principles and forms that prevailed, but the former ones – traditional (although significantly transformed), and often associated with marginal spheres of life. The group of family Cossacks in the public space of the Cossack farm is mostly represented by women. They were active participants in the social life of the settlement and the true heads of their families and households, displacing the men who dominated them in pre-revolutionary times from these spheres. As in the Soviet village, in the Cossack farm, men took positions close to the position of unmarried youth: protected, not burdened with caring for families, often leading a very free lifestyle; in the working sphere of life, they also often realize themselves in marginal and extreme activities. As for the group of old Cossacks and Cossack women, it is also more represented by women who demonstrate special activity in the public space of the farm. Old men, having lost their former statuses and functions, practically disappeared from the social life of the farm, often found themselves excluded from the process of education and socialization of young people, being a clear illustration of the process of breaking the former intergenerational ties and ways of transferring cultural and social experience from the older generation to the younger ones. In Soviet times, there was a process of blurring the boundaries between different gender and age groups, between the moral norm and the anomaly. As studies of Soviet everyday life in recent years show, many of the phenomena described by the author were characteristic of the village as a whole at that time, but in a small and abandoned farmstead they appeared with special evidence and a significant degree of concentration, largely explaining all the subsequent political, economic and social upheavals and cataclysms of the post-perestroika period.