Edward Holland’s research interests include questions of political and cultural change for Russia’s national minorities since the breakup of the Soviet Union. He recently received his PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His dissertation, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Association of American Geographers, was about religious belief and practice among Buddhists in two of Russia’s ethnic republics, Buryatia and Kalmykia. He has previously published on the topics of migration, security, and national identity in Russia’s North Caucasus, with particular focus on the republic of Dagestan. This work has appeared in Central Asian Survey, Eurasian Geography and Economics, and Communist and Post-Communist Studies, among other journals.

Project Summary

This project investigates the formation of religious identity among the Kalmyks, as has occurred in three distinct spatial-temporal contexts: the group’s exile to Siberia and Central Asia between 1943 and 1957; in diaspora in the United States since the early 1950s; and in the republic proper in the twenty years since the breakup of the USSR, during which time Buddhism has consolidated its position as a key element of national identity among the group. The negotiation of religious identity is a complex process; preliminary research suggests that Buddhist practices and rituals are now commonly observed in Kalmykia. However, any broad-based characterizations of religious revival must be tempered by a more complete understanding of the role that religion played during the Soviet period, in the private sphere of individual homes and personal lives, as well as in diaspora in the United States.

Major Publications

  • 2012. ‘Going away on foot’ once again: the revival of temporary labour migration from Russia’s Dagestan, Central Asian Survey 31 (4): 379-393 (with Eldar Eldarov)
  • 2011. The changing geography of violence in Russia’s North Caucasus, Eurasian Geography and Economics 52 (5): 596-630 (with John O'Loughlin and Frank Witmer)
  • 2010. Ethnic Competition, Radical Islam, and Challenges to Stability in the Republic of Dagestan, Communist and Post-Communist Studies 43 (3): 297-308 (with John O'Loughlin)