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Dr Valeriya Gazizova

Dr Valeriya Gazizova

Post-doctoral Research Associate, MIASU



2010 MPhil in Tibetan Studies, University of Oslo

2015 PhD in History of religion (Mongol religions and culture), University of Oslo


Valeriya’s main area of expertise is history of Buddhism and folk forms of religious practices and categories in Kalmykia in modern times. Her PhD dissertation, based on historical analysis and extensive ethnographic fieldwork, focuses on Buddhist renewal and inventions of religion and identity in post-Soviet Kalmykia. 

Her current postdoctoral project, combining archival work and ethnographic field research, exploresthe illegal underground Buddhist activity in Soviet Kalmykiabetween its reestablishment in the USSR in 1958 and until the implementation of perestroikain the late 1980s, the period locally known as that of ‘clandestine Buddhism’.The project also investigates the continued role of ‘secret Buddhists’ of the Soviet era in the present-day restoration of Kalmyk religious institutions and renewal of ethno-national and religious identity. The research addresses questions of survival and transformation of ‘tradition’ under repression and focuses on the relationship between religion, history, memory and identity formation.          

Research Interests

Research project

'Clandestine Buddhism' in Soviet Kalmykia (1958-1988) and its role in the post-Soviet Buddhist revival'.

Research Interests

Religions of Tibetans and Mongols, Buddhism in Kalmykia, ritual healing and folk medicine, anthropology of religion, gender studies, secrecy, debates over tradition and modernity, religious constructivism, identity formation, local history and memory, Kalmyk Buddhist and contemporary art.

Key Publications

2019. New Buddhists, ‘treasure’ discoveries and (re)constructed protective deities of Kalmykia. Inner Asia 21(1)  

2018. From Buddhism to ‘cosmic religion’: religious creativity in Kalmykia. Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia 57 (1): 5–37. 

2017. Buddhism in contemporary Kalmykia: ‘pure’ monasticism versus challenges of post-Soviet modernity. In Buddhist Modernities:Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, edited by Hanna Havnevik, Ute Hüsken, Mark Teeuwen, Vladimir Tikhonov and Koen Wellens. New York: Routledge.

2016. Accepting divine patronage: Kalmyk folk religious specialists and their guardian deities. Inner Asia18(2): 265–287.