One of the branches of our research program is investigation and documenting of folklore traditions in Siberia villages which were settled as a result of the Stolypin land reforms of 1906-1916. In 2010, our research group conducted an expedition to an amazing Siberian village – Turgenevka – settled by Belorussian families in 1909.  In 2011 we traveled to Belarus to visit Turgenevka’s two mother villages – Soshitsy and Kabaki, to document their songs, stories and oral histories  and to compare them with the traditions of their Siberian offshoot.

Locating the villages proved to be something of a challenge, as administrative boundaries had changed since 1909.  But the most dramatic development was this– nearly everyone we talked to had grown up in one village and now lived in another.  Even though most residents had stayed in the same region, the turmoil of war, occupation and frequent changes in government meant that very few current residents of Kabaki or Soshitsy had actually grown up there.  Not surprisingly, we found almost no living memory of the emigration of 50 families 100 years ago from these villages.

We did record some excellent songs, as well as  heart-wrenching oral histories from people who had lived through the worst of the the 20th century.  And we documented a lively textile arts tradition (see our Folklore Archive section for examples).  But finding the relatives of the Siberian settlers will require another trip to the Beriozova region of Belarus.  We hope to do this in 2012!

About This Expedition

  • Dates:

    August 11, 2011 to August 22, 2011

  • Location:

    Kabaki and Soshitsy villages, Pruzhany and Beriozova districts, Brest Province, Belarus

Download Trip Briefing

Meet The Team

  • head shot Yelena Minyonok

    Dr. Yelena Minyonok

    Major Researcher and Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive
    Gorky Institute of World Literature, Moscow

    Lena Minyonok is a philologist, folklorist, and Principal Investigator of the American Friends of Russian Folklore. Dr. Minyonok graduated from the Philological Department of the Moscow State University, where she received her M.A. degree from in 1988. Her postgraduate studies were at the Gorky Institute of World Literature (Russian Academy of Sciences, 1988-1991). She received her Ph.D. in Folklore (Moscow, 1998) and now serves as Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive and Major Researcher in the Folklore Division of the Gorky Institute. Dr. Minyonok has been a Principal Investigator for countless folklore expeditions and has published over 60 articles about Russian folklore traditions. Most recently, she has led expeditions for the American Friends of Russian Folklore (PREEEF’s former name) in conjunction with the Institute of World Literature at the Russian Academy of Sciences. She was a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky in 2007, as a Fulbright scholar.