Extractive Industries and Society : new journal now indexed

Those of our readers engaging with the anthropology of extractive industries such as oil, gas and mining in the Arctic will be pleased to see that a recently established journal is up, running and already indexed in the scopus citation database.

The journal is interdisciplinary in scope, but rooted in social science for sure. This is what the scope says:

“The Extractive Industries and Society” is the one journal devoted to disseminating in-depth analysis of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of mining and oil and gas production on societies, both past and present. It provides a platform for the exchange of ideas on a wide range of issues and debates on the extractive industries and development, bringing together research undertaken by an interdisciplinary group of social scientists in academia, government, the NGO community and industry.

I think this journal is a good one for many of us to keep track of, because it allows us to place our own research from the Arctic within broader debates on the topic that stem from cases worldwide.

Kiryak Petrovich Adukanov from the Bystrynski Raion in Kamchatka, driving his herd over a road leading to the Shanuch Nickel Deposit

Kiryak Petrovich Adukanov from the Bystrynski Raion in Kamchatka, driving his reindeer herd over a road leading to the Shanuch Nickel Deposit

 

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Sacred Sites of Indigenous Peoples: conference and discussion

Several colleagues at Arctic Centre Rovaniemi teamed up with our partners from Inari from the Sámi educational centre to organise a workshop on sacred sites in the Arctic. This was the second in a series of meetings on the topic, the first one having been a conference last September in Pyhätunturi and Rovaniemi.

As participants and organisers reported, the meeting was remarkable, because this time it was mainly our indigenous partners who were active in the discussion. The format was also different from a conference, as there were very few formal presentations, and mostly active discussions. The participants came from at least 3 continents: Europe (Finland, Norway, Russia), Asia (Russia) and America (Canada).

One of the pressing questions discussed there was to what extent sacred places should be revealed to a broader public, or should they better be secret and known only to their active users? Proponents of conservation might say that “we need to know where they are in order to protect them”, whereas the other side might say “you won’t desacrate them unless you know them”. It is remarkable that this is up for discussion among our indigenous partners themselves, and there does not seem a one-fits-all solution.

A discussion here with comments could be very interesting.

Further more I wanted to share a related entry on a different blog, here. Author Evan Sparling thinks that the sacred sites are getting more and more under threat and need to be preserved better – something that was the main topic of the two meetings in Finland too. Especially Arctic Centre researcher Francis Joy presented evidence again for vandalism at sacred sites in northern Europe, much of which, however, may not come from bad intention but rather lack of knowledge among tourists.

I think the workshop in Inari went to the exactly right direction, in empowering people themselves to decide how much they want their places to be known by the rest of the world, and then also considering what this means for possible conservation activities.

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ORHELIA’s trip to Lovozero

Last weekend our almost complete research team of the ORHELIA project (only Roza was unfortunately missing) went to Lovozero, the Sami ‘capital’ of Russian Lapland. It was probably my shortest field trip ever, with only one full day at our disposal and almost two entire days spent in a car. The main goal this time was not to gather as much information as possible but, on the opposite, to spread ORHELIA’s voice. It is the goal of our project to have such meetings in all our field sites. We already had one before in Sevettijärvi (Finland) and our next one will be in December in Naryan-Mar.

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The ORHELIA team just arrived to Lovozero.

Lovozero from its nice side

Lovozero from its nice side.

In Lovozero we organised an info meeting with local people from Lovozero, aiming to let them know about the goals of our project and what benefit it might bring to them as the beneficiary owners of the “raw material” we are working with. This meeting took place in the “Chum”, which is officially called “National Culture Centre” – with ‘national’ meaning ‘indigenous’, the latter being banned from official soviet terminology. Thanks to the organisational support of Valia Sovkina we could manage to gather quite a bit of people.

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Holding our presentation in the “National Culture Centre”.

In the first part of the meeting everybody shortly told about their field site. Our accounts were overarched by Florian’s presentation in which he outlined our comparative approach and the centre-periphery concept: Decisions about the Northern ‘peripheries’ are taken far away in administrative and political centres like Moscow or Helsinki. But is it so evident what is the periphery and what the centre? Doesn’t it depend on where one lives? Aren’t capital cities all too often little-knowing peripheries sending decisions to people’s lifestyle nuclei?

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Florian talking about centre-periphery perceptions.

The meeting was visually accompanied by slideshows and an exhibition of items from our different field sites. These visuals stimulated our discussions with many interested locals while having tea after the presentations.

The exhibition contained items from the Kola Peninsula, Yamal, Arkhangel'sk Region, Sakha and Finland

The exhibition contained items from the Kola Peninsula, Yamal, Arkhangel’sk Region, Sakha and Finland.

In the centre we see a reindeer herder's lasso

In the centre we see a reindeer herder’s lasso.

Our exhibition was sided by mock-up guns n' roses on the orange-black background of the  St. George's Ribbon, a widespread symbol of commemoration of World War II, the end of which was celebrated in Russia on 9th of May.

Our exhibition was sided by mock-up guns n’ roses on the orange-black background of the St. George’s Ribbon, a widespread symbol of commemoration of World War II, the end of which was celebrated in Russia on 9th of May.

For me, who is working with Russian Sami people, having my colleagues from the other field sites here in Lovozero was an important door-opener for my further work. Letting people know who we are and what we are doing creates trust and a feeling of shared interests. I have no doubt that this will reflect in future interviews. In the aftermath of the meeting several people expressed the wish to meet and share their stories with us.

Larisa Pavlovna Avdeeva showing old signatures used by Sami families in official documents before literacy became widespread.

Larisa Pavlovna Avdeeva showing old signatures used by Sami families in official documents before literacy became widespread.

Meeting again with Evdokim Alekseevich Galkin.

Meeting again with Evdokim Alekseevich Galkin.

Anastasiia Eliseevna Mozolevskaia shows her private archive containing materials even from pre-revolutionary times.

Anastasiia Eliseevna Mozolevskaia shows her private archive containing materials even from pre-revolutionary times.

Without any doubt, our most popular team member in Lovozero became Nuccio. While we all could communicate in Russian, Nuccio had a most unexpected common language ready for use: North Sami. A Sicilian in Russia who speaks North Sami with the locals. What an exceptional combination!

Nuccio together with Mariia Alekseevna Popova who originates from the siida Voron'e, which has been flooded due to a dam construction in 1967,

Nuccio together with Mariia Alekseevna Popova who originates from the siida Voron’e, which has been flooded due to a dam construction in 1967.

While Nuccio speaking Sami enchanted our audience, there is another remarkable fact making possible this unexpected way of communicating: North Sami, a language originally not used in Eastern Sapmi, in the past twenty years has become the second most spoken Sami dialect there, behind Kil’din Sami, but with much more speakers than the other dialects of Eastern Sapmi (see Scheller 2013, 409 f.) due to intense cooperation programmes especially with Norway. This example has shown in a nice way that North Sami has become a lingua franca in transnational Sami contacts.

Ekaterina Nikolaevna Korkina (left) took us to a spontaneous visit to her best friend Anna Efimovna Novokhat'ko.

Ekaterina Nikolaevna Korkina (left) took us to a spontaneous visit to her best friend Anna Efimovna Novokhat’ko.

A lively garage discussion

A lively garage discussion.

Having some fun with Yuri Dorzdovskii, a 'vezdekhodchik' ('all-terrain-vehicle-man') who regularly supplies the reindeer brigades and villages without road connection.

Having some fun with Yuri Drozdovskii, a vezdekhodchik (‘all-terrain-vehicle-man’) who regularly supplies reindeer brigades and villages without road connection.

Generally speaking, everybody of our team was overwhelmed by the openness and the interest of the attending people, regardless to the fact that Lovozero can be designated without any doubt as ‘over-researched’ in the past twenty years. We take this as a very encouraging feedback on our project. Thank you, Lovozerians!

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VSP Journal in Arctic Anthropology – by Nikolai Vakhtin

(A Fantasy)

No one can read everything others write in one’s field.

Drowning in too many writings of your colleagues? picture credit: http://filologiy.ucoz.ru/

Drowning in too many writings of your colleagues? picture credit: http://filologiy.ucoz.ru/

One of the reasons is that we use too many words to express our thoughts. Papers start with theories and explanations that the reader either knows or doesn’t need – because we want to write papers, not abstracts. Books are usually much longer than they could have been because we want them to be books, not papers, and books can’t be shorter than… – many publishers will even provide you with exact number of pages.

Most books are 270 pages long. Some are 900 pages long. Some time ago I had to review a book that was 1400 pages long. Who can read all this carefully, not simply scan the text, if books come out at the rate of ten per month? Continue reading

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Anthropological know how ‐ Fieldwork among Shamans and questions of research methodology

Tuesday April 29th 2014 and Wednesday April 30th 2014
Two open lectures by Prof. Tatiana Bulgakova, Herzen State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg

Bulgakova-lecture-announcement

Posted in Announcements, Fieldwork, Guests, Indigenous Peoples, Publications, Russian North, Spirituality, teaching | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Report from two workshops at the Arctic Science Summit Week in Helsinki

“Permafrost Dynamics and Indigenous Land Use” was the title of a two-day workshop at the Arctic Science Summit Week in Helsinki – which is still ongoing at the time of writing this post (5-11 April 2014). Organised by Joachim Otto Habeck and Hiroki Takakura, the workshop brought together scholars from different disciplines (from geosciences to cultural anthropology) to discuss changes in the unique landscape and land use in the Central Yakutian Lowlands. Discussions were truly interdisciplinary, and fascinating from my point of view, tackling complexities in understanding the dimension of this specific landscape that is subject to many influences. Conversations focused on the interaction between natural processes in the formation of a thermokarst landscape, global climatic changes and local changes in cattle farming. Traditional forms of cattle farming have undergone transformations during the Soviet era, inducing lasting changes on the social organisation of for instance hay making in the grasslands of the alaas landscape. In addition, modern lifestyles and state subsidies are playing an important role in the local economy today, raising the question in which direction future land use will develop.

Further meetings are planned to foster cooperation on the theme. In case of interest, please get in touch with the conveners of the workshop (Joachim Otto Habeck, Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, and soon University of Hamburg, Germany; Hiroki Takakura, Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohuku University, Sendai, Japan).

Another workshop, organised by the Nordic branch of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists aimed at “Connecting Early Career Researchers and Community Driven Research in the North”. In her keynote, Gail Fondahl (University of BC) emphasised the possibility of involving members of indigenous communities in the co-management of projects. “Such an approach acknowledges that local communities can best identify their problems and prioritize their needs, that local knowledge and local resources can inform solutions to these problems, and that collaborative research can contribute to developing community capacity and thus help to empower communities.” (Fondahl et al. 2009, Co-Managing Research: Building and Sustaining a First Nation – University Partnership, UNBC). Arja Rautio (University of Oulu) explained how important this kind of collaboration is in health research where studies as well as new policies and schemes can only be devised successfully if they are relevant to the target community. Heidi Eriksen (Utsjoki Health Centre) raised attention to the fact that scientific (and in her example: medical) studies on indigenous peoples have been highly exploitative in the past, with little benefits for the researched communities themselves. Past injustices have to be acknowledged in current research and health care services.

Heidi Eriksen at the APECS workshop in Helsinki 8 April 2014

Equality? Heidi Eriksen at the APECS workshop in Helsinki 8 April 2014

Anna Afanasyeva (International Barents Secretariat), gave insights into her research on the relocation of Sámi of the Kola peninsula between 1930 and 1970, as well as her work in the project DOBES that aims at recording Sámi languages, especially of those which have only few native speakers left. Regarding the theme of the workshop, Anna told how she as an indigenous Sámi from a relocated family has been trying to methodically distance herself from her community to gain a “view from outside”, while researchers from outside the community have been trying to achieve “the view from within” – and how she has been discussing these experiences with fellow researchers.

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Extractive Industries, mobility and work in rural Russia

And another lecture on the extractive industries, this time looking at the sending regions of those people who work on the Russian Arctic’s oil and gas fields. What’s the importance of Arctic oil for a remote village in Russia’s south 1000s of miles away from the Arctic? The starting point is that we need to know about workers’ background if we want to understand how they succeed or fail to get settled in to Arctic settings.

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This lecture is also part of our course on resources in the University of Lapland’s “Arctic Studies Programme”

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