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Vol. 63 of Folklore: EJF came out!

It is our pleasure to present to you the latest, special issue of journal Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore 63 (, with Aimar Ventsel as guest editor. The initial idea of the special issue was to reflect the current state of affairs in Kazakh academia, and demonstrate to the English speaking audience the variety of topics and research methods existing there. As is typical of academia in the former Soviet Union, scholars in Kazakhstan overwhelmingly focus their studies on subjects from their own country. This tendency offers the reader a unique possibility to get a glimpse inside the academia of Kazakhstan, and learn about the questions, methods, and approaches that Kazakh scholars work with.
Aimar Ventsel and Baurzhan Zhanguttin present in their co-authored article materials about Pakhta-Aral prison camp No. 29 for prisoners of war, which was an untypical prison camp in the Soviet prison camp system in that it was opened as a workforce supply for the cotton growing collective farms of Kazakhstan. The appendix at the back of the article presents a list of buried prisoners of war in the cemetery of Pakhta-Aral prison camp.
The article by Zhanat Kundakbayeva and Kamshat Rustem is dedicated to reputable Soviet writer Gabit Musrepov, and presents a literary analysis of his three short stories. The authors show that under the strictest control and actively expressed interest of the authorities in the writer’s creative activities, the latter’s mastery and the incompetence of censors allowed him to avoid the prohibition of his works.
Madina Sultanova, Natalia Mikhailova and Dinara Amanzholova analyse a self-cognitive experience performed by Kazakh contemporary art, led by globalisation tendencies, in search of its place in the world, seeing itself both as the most western of Oriental countries and the most oriental of Western ones. The authors conclude that within two decades of independence modern Kazakh society, not without difficulty, has managed to find an equilibrium that constitutes the Kazakh mentality and keeps a balance between East and West.
Galina Vlasova in her article compares Slavic and Kazakh folklore calendar, drawing typological and ethno-cultural parallels. The Slavic holiday calendar represents a dual faith synthesis of pagan and Christian entities while the Kazakh holiday calendar focuses on the connection of the pagan and Muslim principles. Slavic and Kazakh ethnic and cultural contacts are reflected in the joint celebrations, in interethnic borrowing practices, rituals, games, and in Russian and Kazakh song performances by representatives of different ethnic groups.
Sholpan Zharkynbekova and Atirkul Agmanova’s article gives an overview of some of the research priorities of Kazakhstani scientists who study the linguistic, socio linguistic, and methodical parameters of scientific description of a language as a social fact, describing the language situation in Kazakhstan, which creates a scientific background for theoretical and practical understanding of the language changes taking place in the country.
Erik Aasland in his article emphasises the high value the government of Kazakhstan places on Kazakh oral tradition as a resource for societal restoration, by analysing a video posted by Asıl Arna, the state approved Islamic governing body’s media company, on YouTube. The author concludes that the video is a prime example of effective communication using traditional and contemporary resources in Kazakhstan’s current secular, multicultural society.
In the discussion section, Aimar Ventsel and Natalia Struchkova address the tensions between different forms of academic writing, highlighting the differences between the so-called Western writing and the style widespread in Russia and in many post-Soviet countries where the academic language is still Russian.
The issue presents a longer review essay by Taive Särg and introduces several new publications. The news section gives an overview of a PhD thesis defence at the University of Tartu as well as of the 9th Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Proverbs in Tavira, southern Portugal.

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