Siberian Overtones: Stories and Songs from Tuva with Dr. Susan Crate

October 6th, 2020 · 32 mins 57 secs

About this Episode

Dr. Susan Crate returns to the show to share her 1990 journey to Tuva, the geographic center of Asia. At this time, Tuva had only recently opened up to foreign travelers and the oblast (region) experienced heavy upheaval across the domains of the former Soviet Union. This moment also proved to be a turning point for the revitalization of lost or hidden cultural traditions, and many Tuvans openly displayed their heritage, wearing their garments and exhibiting their practices. Dr. Crate spent time in the capital city of Kyzyl and traveled across Tuva to remote villages, recording traditional songs, prayers, and oral poetry. She shares with us original recordings of khoomei (Tuvan throat singing), labor songs (folk songs that organize work through a certain rhythm), ovaa prayers, a bear dance ritual, and much more. Четтирдим!


Dr. Susan Crate is a professor of Anthropology in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University. She is trained as anapplied anthropologist, folklorist, and ethnomusicologist. Much of her research focuses on environmental and cognitive anthropology and human ecology among Viliui Sakha of Yakutia, Northeastern Siberia. Her research on the effects of unprecedented climatechange has recently expanded to Canada, Mongolia, Peru, Wales, Kiribati, and the ever-so exotic, Chesapeake Bay. She is the author of Cows, Kin, and Globalization: An Ethnography of Sustainability (2006), the coeditor of Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions (2009, 2016), and a lead author on Chapter 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate”.Dr. Crate is currently working on a longitudinal ethnography titled Once Upon the Permafrost: Culture and Climate Change in the 21stCentury, which chronicles her thirty years of work in the Sakha Republic. The book is due out fall 2021 with University of Arizona Press.

NOTE: This episode was recorded on September 6th, 2020. Apologies for the high-pitched ringing at points, which was entirely due to the presence of crickets.

Host/Assistant Producer: Kathryn Yegorov-Crate
Associate Producer: Lera Toropin
Associate Producer: Cullan Bendig
Assistant Producer: Samantha Farmer
Audio Processing, Editing, and Sound Design: Charlie Harper and Michelle Daniel

Co-Producer: Tom Rehnquist (Connect: Twitter @RehnquistTom)
Co-Producer: Matthew Orr (Connect:

Music Producer: Charlie Harper (Connect: Instagram: @charlieharpermusic) (Main Theme by Charlie Harper and additional background music by Charlie Harper, Scott Holmes, and John Bartmann)
All Tuvan recordings provided by Dr. Susan Crate. Order of songs:
1 Незаметно век проходит; духовные стихи (The century passes imperceptibly, spirital poem)
2 Бай-ла Тайгам (Bai-la Taigam, folk song)
3 Благопожелание (Prayers; ovaa, istochnik, baraba)
4 Трудовая песня для ягненка, козлёнка и телёнка (Functinoal song; lamb, goat, calf)
5 Горловое пение, отец с маленьким сынком
6 Импровизационная игра на варгоне (Improvisational playing on the mouth harp)
7 Шаманскoе камлание, Зелёное озеро (Shaman ritual healing song, Green Lake)
8 Танец медведя (Bear dance)

Executive Producer & Creator: Michelle Daniel (Connect: Instagram: @michelledaniel86)

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this episode do not necessarily reflect those of the show or the University of Texas at Austin.