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Dr Nicholas Drofiak

Nicholas DrofiakLeverhulme Early Career Fellow in Theatre and Performance Studies


Room G38a, Millburn House
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7HS


I am interested in the ways in which human repertoires of collective knowledge, memories and attitudes towards identities are continuously and communally constituted, evolved, exchanged and negotiated through ongoing and co-constructive relations with agentive, non- or more-than-human things. In particular I am exploring these issues in exchange and collaboration with a multilingual, multi-ethnic village community in Turukhansk Rajon, on the lower Yenisei river, the language of whose Ket indigenous residents is severely endangered. The research project Performing indigenous identities, memory and belonging in the Russian Far North is undertaken as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship supported by the Leverhulme Trust and University of Warwick, mentored by Dr. Milija Gluhovic, and running from February 2018 to January 2021.

Community members have personal histories of forced settlement, re-settlement and exile, and the project’s principle themes (which have arisen through oral history interviews with community members) concern the implications of restrictions in access to material cultural heritage: within the conceptual framework of the project, things of interest comprehend languages (as individually held, material practices), landscapes (rendered inaccessible by distance or time and inextricably associated with those languages), sturgeon, bears, dams existing and rumoured, flooded villages, vanished forms of ice, canoes, sounds, floating houses, gas fields, legislation pertaining to subsidies and official (non indigenous) definitions of ‘authentic’ indigenous life, the Yenisei river and its tributaries, and wax cylinder recordings (among other artefacts) archived in museums and institutions hundreds of kilometres from the people able to render them meaningful.

The principle themes arising are of access and restrictions to it, and of attempts to name and define: of disjunctions between local and official conceptions of authenticity and precarity, as well as the implications of these notions’ differing applications in the case of human and sturgeon cultures. The research is practice-based and takes place through oral history / ethnographic fieldwork, drawing and soundwalk / soundscape production, all engaged upon as means of facilitating encounters between heritage materials and village community members.

Module developer / convener: TH338 Sound Walks, Site and Landscape.


Iʁúsan or, Canting for Architects (Zurich: gta Verlag / ETH Zurich, 2020)


Figure 1: House with satellite dish, Turukhansk Rajon, Russian Federation.