Old Russia in Modern America: Living Traditions of the Russian Old Believers

Alexander B. Dolitsky
2017
Alaska-Siberia Research Center

Persecution by the Russian tsarist government forced Old Believers into remote and undeveloped areas, where they quietly continued to practice the old rituals, periodically moving when threats of persecution caught up with them again. Several of these groups migrated to the United States in the 1960s, settling in rural areas of Oregon and Alaska. Their obedience to pre-17th century ways places them in conspicuous contrast and often conflict to other residents of their new locations. Despite tendencies toward acculturation and culture change, they continue to observe the old ways in many cultural domains.

 

The following monograph by Alexander Dolitsky is a valuable contribution to the research on Alaska and the circumpolar region for two reasons. First, it provides a fine ethnohistorical description of the Old Believers. This part of the work gives us an insight to why the Old Believers have come to Alaska and why they wish to continue their traditional way of life. Secondly, the book clarifies and modifies some aspects of the theories regarding social-cultural change in the Arctic.