Meie eesmärgiks on uurida soome-ugri animismi põlisrahvaste tunnetusviisina. Animistlik mõtlemine ja tegutsemine areneb tänapäeval dialoogis domineerivate religioonide ja ideoloogiatega. Me püüame mõista elavat animistlikku kogemust süvitsi ja uurida põlisrahva usundi efektiivsust inimeste kohandumisel nõukogude-järgsete ühiskondlike muutustega. Me analüüsime võrdlevalt mitut soome-ugri kogukonda erinevates sotsiaalsetes kontekstides. Meie peamised uurimismeetodid on osalev vaatlus, intervjuud, foto ja video ulatuslik kasutamine ning hermeneutiline analüüs. Me lähtume eeldusest, et animistlik maailmapilt on kodeeritud igapäevastesse narratiividesse ja praktikatesse. Ohverdusrituaalid on tänapäeval kõige silmapaistvamad soome-ugri animistlikud praktikad ning sellistena peegeldavad need tseremooniad animismi sotsiaalseid funktsioone. Me kavatseme panustada teadmiste kasvu ohustatud soome-ugri põlisusundite uurimisel ning tõhustada maailma usulise mitmekesisuse teaduslikku mõistmist.
Our aim is to explore the Finno-Ugric animism as mode of vernacular sensitivity and encounter. The animistic thinking and acting develop in dialogue with dominant religions and ideologies. We intend to understand animistic experience in depth and to explore how effective indigenous religions are for adapting individuals and local Finno-Ugric communities to post-socialist changes. We will comparatively elaborate several case studies in different social contexts. Our primary research methods will be participant observation, interviewing, extensive application of photo and video and hermeneutic analysis. We propose that the animistic worldview is encoded into everyday narratives and practices. Sacrificial rituals are today the most explicit Finno-Ugric animistic practices and reflect the social functions of animism. We aim to contribute to knowledge of endangered Finno-Ugric indigenous religions in order to improve scholarly understanding of the diversity of world perceptions.
In the course of the project, we studied animism among the Udmurt, Mari, Komi, Khanty, Mansi, and Forest Nenets peoples. We conducted ethnographic fieldwork every year (partly, these trips were financed from other sources but were still targeted to reach also objectives of the project). Most often we visited the Udmurts (13 times) but also the Mari (2 times), Komi (7 times), Khanty and Mansi (1 time) as well as Forest Nenets (1 time). All together, we organized 24 ethnographic fieldwork trips (15 of those solely on the resources of the project). We presented our work in progress 31 times at the scholarly conferences in Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Romania, Russia, and Sweden. Our project’s results indicate that animistic beliefs and rituals are widespread among the Finno-Ugric groups in Russia today. Anyhow, intensity and functions of indigenous beliefs vary significantly between different regions. The most characteristic manifestations of the Udmurt animism are seasonal collective prayer ceremonies. Among the Mari people, the tradition of collective prayers is also very much alive. But the characteristic quality of the Mari is the existence of the official religious organization that supports maintenance of sacrificial ceremonies but also coherence and even unification of ritual elements between different Mari regions. Komi animistic beliefs are predominantly related to hunting practice. In the Komi society as a whole, these ideas have a rather modest visibility. But for the Komi hunters, animism constitutes an established life philosophy. Contemporary animism of the indigenous groups of the Western Siberia (the Khanty, Mansi and Forest Nenets) is also connected primarily to traditional subsistence technologies but sacrificial rituals are also applied as an element of public protest actions against the oil industry.