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The article discusses the features of the introduction of Buddhist dogma from the Mongol territories of the Qing Empire into the ethno-cultural environment of the indigenous population of the south of Western Siberia. The purpose of the article is to identify the specifics of the spread of Buddhism in the south of Western Siberia in the pre-revolutionary period in the context of frontier theory. The paper presents an overview of contemporary Russian studies on frontier issues, highlights a scientific discussion on the correct application of this theory to study the processes of entrance and development of the Asian part of the Russian state. The author focuses on the definition of frontier features of religious phenomena, the synchronization of internal Russian and Central Asian processes in studying the spread of Buddhism (based on materials from the Burkhanist movement in Altai at the beginning of the 20th century). The research methodology is based on macro- and microhistorical approaches, the use of historical-comparative and structural-functional methods to identify the features of the formation of regional variations of Buddhism in South Siberia. The author characterizes the phenomena of quasi-border and the different perceptions by various ethnic and territorial groups of the population of a closely located border: for the indigenous population this fact meant the possibility of maintaining contacts with the spiritual centers of Central Asia, for settlers it represented a permanent threat. The author indicates that the loyal attitude of Buddhism towards religious syncretic forms has become a competitive advantage over Orthodoxy. As a result, the author comes to the conclusion that it is necessary to combine the principles of frontier theory with other theoretical models due to the fact that the use of frontier research tools allows us to identify the main forms of Buddhism spread, but for the meaningful characterization of interfaith interaction, it is necessary to use, for example, an acculturation approach.

Keywords: Buddhism; Orthodoxy; religious frontier; religion spread mechanism; interfaith interaction; acculturation; religious syncretism; south of Western Siberia

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2020.2.5-14

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About the author 

Alexander A. Nasonov – PhD (History), Associate Professor at the Department of Museology, Kemerovo State Institute of Culture;
17 Voroshilova str., Kemerovo, Russia, 650056; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.