Land of Diversity

The project the Land of Diversity aims at acquainting the reader with the cultures that have retained their ethnic uniqueness owing to such factors as geographic, remoteness, devotion to archaicism and traditional life style. Consequently they have never been integrated into the globalized space of today. When selecting the communities to be presented in the series, with their different environmental, historical and cultural backgrounds, we preferred those whose life styles in a sense offer an alternative to the European tradition – such as the Altai’s Old Believers, the Kyrgyz, the West Siberia’s Khanty and the Nenets, as well as the ethnic groups and subgroups of Dagestan.

The book centers round man, who opens up and cultivates wild lands; it also spotlights the cultural landscape created as a result of human trades, crafts, ritual practices and symbolic interpretations of the surrounding world.

The genre of the album allows focusing on the most striking and memorable images of culture. The old and contemporary photographs accompanied by researchers’ comments give every reader a chance to make a journey across time and space, to immerse in other cultural context and thus withdraw from everyday routine in order to experience something novel and wonderful seen through the prism of what is one’s own.

The Land of Diversity rubric emphasize the spatial dimension of culture, which suggests travel that allows a certain distancing, i.e. seeing what is believed to be one’s own as entirely novel and spontaneous, and perceiving what seems to be foreign as akin to one’s own. At the heart of the project, therefore, is the ethnographic expedition. The most fascinating opportunity offered by fieldwork is a study of the present, embracing as it does both the past, which is gone, and the future, which is yet come.

 The project aims to stir an interest in the awareness of self and one’s own culture made possible only by the awareness of “Other” (according to Stanislaw Lem, the limits of an individual are determined by “Other”), i.e. past epochs, regional and ethnic traditions and social communities. The ultimate goal of the project, however, is to arouse concern and curiosity in the minds of even those who have little taste for self-reflection. The difficulty consists in making representation of other cultures captivating for all. With this in mind, the authors tried to avoid excessive “exotizing” of other cultures; what is important is that an individual should see their own self as reflected in Other, and this is exactly what is essential in the long run. Rephrasing Hermann Hesse, when we are interested in someone, we mostly look for what is peculiar to ourselves, while what is not peculiar to ourselves is of little concern.

The camera lens does not make capture images objective, since photography per se is always a result of the choice determined as much by the general culture context as by fact that the reality we observe is interpreted through our life experience, tastes, background and other personality traits. Photographs, therefore, provide representations of both camera-captured realities of another culture and of the photographer’s own cultural-dependent vision.

 

The Land of Diversity is non-commercial education project. If you are interested in getting the publication or one of its volumes, please contact us: info@thnomuseum.ru 

Searching for Belovodye. 2010. Vol.1
In the Passes of Time. 2015. Vol 5
Spitsbergen Land. 2016. Vol. 6