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Report from The Ritual Year 2015: Traditions and Transformation

Kazan4The 11th Annual conference of the SIEF Working group on The Ritual year took place in Kazan, situated on Volga and the venue was the Kazan University, one of the oldest universities in Russia. The conference was organized by Guzel Stoliarova with participation of Nadezhda and Sergey Rychkovs, and involving 38 participants from 11 countries worked extremely well.

Kazan3In addition to discussing a wide range of topics relating to the innovation, change, adaption and adoption with regard to the traditional and modern ritual year, we also gained some valuable insights into the unique customs of the Tatars, and other ethnic groups who live near Volga. We also learned the ways in which different religious groups manage to live together peacefully with joint respect for each others' world views and cultural backgrounds. For the first time we used the new technologies and organized a Skype sessions with 5 scholars (4 from Bulgaria and one from the Netherlands) who could not come to Kazan. This session and the discussion followed opened to us new perspectives.

KazanBesides the conference itself, participants took part in a memorable excursion to Russian Orthodox churches and monasteries (one a former Gulag) in Sviyzhsk, an authentic Sabantuy festival which took place in a Tatar village in the countryside. We also visited the Ethnographic museum of The Kazan University and the Museum of the history of the Kazan University.

Kazan2At the group meeting the 10th volume in the group series “The Ritual Year” was presented by one of the editors Tatiana Minniykhmentova. This book “Magic in Rituals and Rituals in Magic” (Inncbruck – Tartu: ELM Scholarly Press, 2015, 598 pp.) consists of the articles by the participants of the 10th SIEF WG “The Ritual Year” conference in Innsbruck, with the co-editors Tatiana Minniyakhmetova and Kamila Velkoborská. Several photos illustrate the conference itself, the book presentation and the excursions.

Terry Gunnel, Irina Sedakova


Although festive culture demonstrates the age-old experience of peoples in the form of feasts, rituals and customs, still it is a dynamic and evolving system. The modern world cannot be imagined without the collision and interpenetration of various cultures, due to globalized commercial processes, migration and mass-media activity The festive culture of many peoples is being seriously modified, and the transformations can be traced not only in individual perceptions of celebration but in the whole structure of the festival. Any festival is an aesthetic and social event which consists of a set of cultural elements that were designed in the course of a long history of the development of human beings and society.

Taking the ideas of traditions and transformations into account we will concentrate on several anthropological, ethnological, folkloristic and interdisciplinary themes:

  • The ethnicity of a holiday: from the local to the global
  • A festival as a intercultural phenomenon
  • Self-identification in a festival
  • The Ritual Year: traditions and novelties in academic investigation
  • Collective and personal aspects of a holiday
  • The festive and everyday spheres
  • Emotions in the Ritual Year
  • Transformation in the visual and verbal parts of a festival
  • General and specific changes in calendric and life-cycle rituals
  • Any other topic related to the Ritual Year

Conference venue
Kazan Federal University

Conference organizers
The Conference is organized by the Department of Archeology and Ethnology of the Institute of Foreign Relations, History and Eastern Studies of The Federal University of Kazan and the SIEF Working Group on The Ritual Year

The Head of the Organizing Committee:
Professor Guzel Rafailovna Stoliarova (

The Program of the conference: It will last for three days with an excursion on the fourth day (optional). It will include the annual meeting of the SIEF Working Group on The Ritual Year.

Presentations: 20 minutes with 10 minutes discussion. Poster presentations 10 minutes. Participants without presentations are welcome.

Languages: English and Russian.

The conference fee is 50 € to cover printed materials (abstracts and the program), the coffee-breaks and a welcoming party. We will be applying for financial support and government grants.

Excursion with lunch (optional) 20 €.

Annual membership in the Working Group on The Ritual Year is 5 €

Annual membership in SIEF (15 €) if not paid on the SIEF site should be paid at

Important deadlines
We kindly request your application (first and last names, affiliation and the title of the presentation) by August 15, 2014 to Guzel Stoliarova: or

The abstract (150-200 words) should be submitted by October 1, 2014. The note of acceptance will follow by November 1, 2014.

Further information (on publications and other plans) will follow in the Second Circular.

Travelling to Kazan
The international airport in Kazan ( has direct connections with Frankfurt, Helsinki, Rimini, Baku, Erevan, Tashkent, Stamboul, Antalia and Larnaka. Other flights can be taken via Moscow (1 hour and 10 minutes) and St Petersburg (2 hours).

From the Kazan airport you can take the express train which in 20 minutes will bring you to the Kazan railway station. The price for economy class is 200 roubles (appr. 4 €), business class 400 roubles (appr. 8 €). The tickets can be purchased at the airport. See the time-table:

The taxi from the airport to the town centre and the university will cost around 550 roubles (12-13 €).

Accommodation: In Kazan there over 100 hotels of various prices. They can be easily booked at: (consult the map below)

We will provide information on cheaper accommodation in the next letter.

1 - Кремлевская, 18. Главное здание Казанского федерального университета (Kremlevskaya street, 18. Main building of the  Kazan Federal University)

2 - Кремлевская, 35. Научная библиотека КФУ (Kremlevskaya street, 35. The University Library)

3 - Университетская, 16. Отель "Хаял" (Universitetskaya street, 16. Hotel Hayal)

4 - Пушкина, 4. Гостиница "Татарстан" (Pushkin street, 4. Hotel “Tatarstan”. 10 minutes walk from the University)

On sightseeing in Kazan visit