Ikuru Kuwajima

As early as the 13th century, Cossacks formed military communities in Ukraine and Russia. Having fought many wars over hundreds of years, these populations had a large degree of autonomy and a reputation for being fierce warriors and skilled with horses. The Soviet regime suppressed Cossack activities, but after the fall of the Iron Curtain there has been a cultural revival. In Crimea, a number of active communities have sprung up in the last ten years; some are tied to pro-Russian movements as ethnic Russians still dominate the demography in Crimea. These groups have been restoring their practices, taking on policing duties and gathering the community to commemorate historic events. In 2009, photographer Ikuru Kuwajima spent several months photographing the Cossacks as they reaffirm their identity.

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