Oral history: bringing our results back to the people

Honouring our partners in the field: Arctic elders and their representatives
Most of the Rovaniemi anthropology research team went this last week to Naryan Mar, the capital of the European Russian Nenets Autnomous Okrug, for celebrating the 25th anniversary of our field partners there, Nenets peoples association Yasavey. Congratulations!

The posh "Arktika" culture and business centre in Naryan Mar was chosen to be an appropriate venue for our presentation

The posh “Arktika” culture and business centre in Naryan Mar was chosen to be an appropriate venue for our presentation

We are honoured and proud that they granted us as only foreign partner a whole hour in their anniversary programme, and thankful to the Naryan-Mar Social and Humanitarian college for hosting us.
Over the last four years, the Nenets Okrug was one of the key regions for our ORHELIA oral history project, and nowhere our Finnish Academy project (decision 251111) got more material on Arctic indigenous people’s oral history than here in the Nenets Okrug. That is thanks to Stephan Dudeck and his partners in the field. Continue reading

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New Article on Extractive Industries in Indigenous Areas in Canada and Sweden

New article “Effects of mining on reindeer/caribou populations and indigenous livelihoods: community-based monitoring by Sami reindeer herders in Sweden and First Nations in Canada” in The Polar Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2014, by Thora Martina Herrmann, Per Sandström, Karin Granqvist, Natalie D’Astous, Jonas Vannar, Hugo Asselin, Nadia Saganash, John Mameamskum, George Guanish, Jean-Baptiste Loon & Rick Cuciurean.

 RPOLcover 1..2Abstract:

This paper explores the effects of human disturbances associated with mine development in the Arctic on habitat and populations of reindeer/caribou (both Rangifer tarandus), and implications for reindeer husbandry and caribou hunting of indigenous Sami people in Sweden and First Nations in Canada. Through three case studies, we illustrate how Cree and Naskapi communities develop community-based geospatial information tools to collect field data on caribou migration and habitat changes, and how Sami reindeer herders use GIS to gather information about reindeer husbandry to better communicate impacts of mining on reindeer grazing areas. Findings indicate impacts on the use of disturbed habitat by reindeer/caribou, on migration routes, and northern livelihoods. The three cases present novel methods for community-based environmental monitoring, with applications in hazards mapping and denote the active engagement of indigenous communities in polar environmental assessments, generating community-oriented data for land use management decisions. They also illustrate how technology can lead to better communication and its role for empowerment.

Key words: mining, disturbance, reindeer, caribou, Sami, First Nations, community-based environmental monitoring, communication, local and landscape level.


In the case for the field of research in Sweden, the two Sami villages used an abstract of the article written by me – Karin Granqvist – and Per Sandström in their overruling of Jokkmokk Iron Mines AB’s application for concession license at Kallak. The County Administrative Board in the county of Norrbotten in Sweden, decided this October not to give JIMAB permission to exploit for ore at Kallak. JIMAB has now to overrule that decision to the Swedish Government if the company wants a concession license, but even so their application can be turned down.

DSC_0077 DSC_0078_20141208180645665


Posted in All, Extractive Industries, Fennoscandia, Fieldwork, Indigenous Peoples, North American North, Publications, Sámi, Theoretical Issues | Leave a comment

Guide to Covering Extractive Industries

A guide to covering extractive industries by investigating journalists. Sadly enough it seems like only organisations and companies are listed members, not research groups or single researchers.


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Black Gold or black dirt in East Siberia? Arctic Extractive Industries PhD programme holds course in Neryungyi, Republic of Sakha Yakutia

It was a fascinating week that the Extractive Industries Group spent in Neryungryi, Yakutia, one of the Soviet Union’s youngest single industry towns, established in 1975.

The Uarctic Thematic Network “Arctic Extractive Industries” thank the North Eastern Federal University, Faculty of Law and department for Northern Studies, for organising of a great course in our pan Arctic Phd programme, which was held from November 9-15 in Neryungri, on the basis of a technical institute NEFU.
We were 6 professors/teachers and 9 PhD students in the team, joint in the course lectures by students from the Neryungryi technical institute, a branch of Russia’s North Eastern Federal University (Yakutsk).

The course participants in Neryungryi technical institute of North Eastern Federal University, Russia

The course participants in Neryungryi technical institute of North Eastern Federal University, Russia

Within the first 15 years of its existence, the population of the town skyrocketed already up to 100 000 inhabitants, but once the construction of the town and the coal mines (in the Soviet Union all open pit) was finished, the Soviet Union was in the middle of perestroika, and as much as half of the population left again. We just experienced the celebrations for the 39th birthday of the city. How many of us come from such a young place? Now Neryungryi is a compact town of 50 000 people,

Neryungryi today

Neryungryi today

with mainly two companies working there in coal mining: Yakutugol, owned by its parent company Mechel Mining, running the main open pit in town, and recently started a giant new coal development in the taiga, the Elginski deposit, which will be producing with a few thousand fly-in fly-out workers four times more coal than all of Neryungryi did in the Soviet Union – with a town of a 100 000 people! The second company here is Kolmar, which belongs to a wealthy Russian enterpreneur called Gennadi Timchenko. At their Denisovski deposit, they produce coal from underground mining, at a price per tonne of 1800 roubles. Recently the coal price collapsed to 1400 roubles, making this development unprofitable. Nonetheless, Timchenko has enough financial cushion to just stop producing coal, and instead investing a lot of money into building new mines and processing plans, just for the future! The company has high hopes, especially for Chinese and Japanese prices to go up, and invested into hiring more permanent staff, currently a bit more than 900.

The open pit mine because of which Neryungryi was established

The open pit mine because of which Neryungryi was established

Interestingly, they decided not to organise fly-in / fly-out work force. All their employees live locally in Neryungryi, as the fly-in / fly-out model was not considered reliable for this kind of production. Instead, they hired recently 260 refugee coal miners from the Ukrainian Donbass mining area. Here they also feel the political changes in Russia’s relations with the West, as the company has to change from importing western mining technology to chinese technology. According to the main engineer at Kolmar, Chinese equipment satisfies their needs too.
This kind of information we got as a group on our excursion to the industry sites. The visitor to South East Siberia gets a different view of regional development at the small village of Iengra, where Evenki herders herd some thousand reindeer in 10 herds of the local collective enterprise (still called sovkhoz by herders), and a number of private herding groups (obshiny).

Evenki reindeer herders from Iengra drove 3 hours from the forest to see us as a group and talk about land use

Evenki reindeer herders from Iengra drove 3 hours from the forest to see us as a group and talk about land use

Interestingly, their nomadic life was not as much subject to Soviet modernisation policies as in other areas, even in North Yakutia. The Iengra Evenki seem to have continued nomadic migrations with families all the way through the Soviet Union, while their children still go to the boarding school – a system that was discontinued in other areas, such as in Chukotka or parts of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug.
Interestingly, the biggest problems that the Evenki have with industry is not with coal mining, but with gold mining. The latter is organised very differently from the coal mining – namely in smaller companies with less significant gold extraction licences. They get their claims allocated mostly from the district municipality, whereas the reindeer herders are registered with the village council. This means for them that on paper they do not even compete for land with the gold mining (artel, priiski). This industry – as Alexandra, a chairperson from the Iengra culture house says – does not really care what is going on around them. In other words, corporate social responsibility is not even properly known as a concept. On the other hand, both of these livelihoods – herding and mining – are so far spatially not too much overlapping, as the land around Neryungryi is rather sparsely populated.
A bit further away from Neryungryi, an hour’s drive, there is a hot spring, which was a popular excursion trip among our PhD course group too. At a mild minus 35 degrees centigrade we all enjoyed a warm bath, with our hair getting frozen immediately.

Minus 35 outside, and plus 35 in the water was a real treat for all the participants

Minus 35 outside, and plus 35 in the water was a real treat for all the participants

The programme organisers Aitalina Ivanova and Mikhail Prisyazhyi from Yakutsk (North Eastern Federal NEFU) University did a great job in dividing our days between sessions and excursions, so that the participants really felt how it made sense to have an extractive industries PhD school at a site where the industry is actually active in extractive practices. A warm thank you to both of them, and the whole team organising what was a remarkable course event within our phd programme on extractive industries.
More on the programme can be seen at our separate website,  in Russian at the news service of NEFU,







and of course – as always - Arthur Mason’s visual ethnographic diary of the whole event.

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Puzzling about sustainability: Coastal economies – sea water interaction

EU ACCESS project – Arctic Climate Change Economy and Society

November 11, 2014, Borealis, 10am. Organized by Arctic Centre, Dr. Anna Stammler-Gossmann

access-workshop-photoThe sustainability framework has become a powerful concept in shaping national and international objectives. Nevertheless, the concept may face considerable challenges in putting together pieces of the sustainability puzzle. There are still several uncertainties over its underlying meaning as well as effectiveness in addressing emerging social and environmental problems.
What sustainable development actually means is one of the important issues for the Northern coastal economies and international political agenda of the last decade. During the workshop practitioners and researchers will discuss the sustainability concept as applied on the regional level in the fisheries and marine mammal hunting in Russian, Icelandic, Norwegian and Canadian context.

Everybody is warmly welcome

10:00 Anna Stammler-Gossmann, (Arctic Centre). Welcome and opening remark.

10:10 – 10:45 Dmitrii Klochkov (Marine Informatics, Murmansk). Sustainability and climate change issues in the Russian commercial fishery sector

10:45 – 11: 20 Halldór Þorsteinsson (Seafood Quality, Iceland). Sustainability in Icelandic: Mackerel war

11:20 – 11:55 Nikolas Sellheim (University of Lapland). Sustainability in a Canadian commercial seal hunting community

11:55 – 12:30 Nina Messhtyb (Arctic Centre). Fishing reindeer herders of Yamal peninsula

12: 30 – 13:00 Anna Stammler-Gossmann (Arctic Centre). Arctic fisheries and sustainability discourses

13:00 – 13:45 Discussion

More information: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

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”Shamanism, Symbolism and Culture”

Shamanism, Symbolism and Culture. Role and function of art in the transmission of shama_intrance_kulan_20120609culture and cultural practices”

The University of Lapland’s Arctic Centre, Rovaniemi, Finland, is pleased to announce confirmation of a 2 day International Shamanism Seminar which will be held on 27th – 28th of November 2014. The key speaker is Mihaly Hoppal from Hungary who is the President of the International Institute for Shamanistic Research.

A list of the speakers and titles of their presentations as well as registration details can be found on the seminar website.

On behalf of The Staff at Arctic Centre, we welcome you to Lapland – Best wishes – Francis Joy.

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“Nomadic” Ph.D. Summer School “Field Experiences in Northwest Russia” (FENOR): Call for Applications

The European University at St. Petersburg and the University of Vienna are pleased to announce the first call for a “Nomadic” Ph.D. Summer School “Field Experiences in Northwest Russia” (FENOR)

Location and Dates


Route of the Nomadic School

The FENOR summer school is designed as a traveling training course for Ph.D. students and young researchers, which will be conducted at several locations in the Russian North. Senior and early career scholars will be traveling together in the course of two weeks, participating in a program that consists of lectures, seminars, excursions and fieldwork. Moving northwards from St. Petersburg to the Arkhangelsk region, participants will experience local articulations of dwelling in these regions. The route of the school will go through the administrative territories of the Leningrad region, the republic of Karelia, and the Arkhangelsk region.

The school continues, thematically and methodologically, the Field training course “Social Production of Space: Field experiences in the Russian European North” organized by the Centre for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg, Russia and the University of Roskilde, Denmark in August 2007.

Proposed dates: Assembling in St. Petersburg: Friday, July 31st, 2015. The School will start on August 1st and will return to St. Petersburg on Thursday, August 14th.

Aims & Expected Learning Outcomes The FENOR summer school will provide researchers and students with an invaluable experience examining a characteristic regional landscape that allows for comparisons while at the same time revealing its unique historical trajectory within the Russian context. Thematically, the course is focused on everyday life practices emerging from the interaction between people and their environments, ways of life, identities, and local perceptions of changes in the Russian North. Participants will discuss current tendencies of social sciences in conceptualizing landscape, time and mobility and will apply this knowledge to field experiences in and from the Russian North. The course is aimed at researchers with an interest in qualitative methodologies and field work. The Russian North is inhabited by indigenous and non-indigenous people, women and men who live in small settlements, in the tundra, or in industrial towns. Diverse social actors dwell in this shared space; their ways of using the territory and perceiving the environment can vary significantly, as well as their mobility practices. During the course, we will investigate how ‘the North’ is produced and consumed, practiced and performed by its inhabitants. Travelling through various locations we will observe how footprints of different epochs overlap in the landscape, how the Russian North has been changing over time depending on activities characteristic for people in particular periods. On the way from St. Petersburg through Karelia Republic to the city of Arkhangelsk region the FENOR school participants will get acquainted with different modes of dwelling in northern localities. Taking the water route of the Belomorkanal and visiting the Island of Solovki, we will get acquainted with a use of the North by the Soviet regime as a territory of repression and punishment, and with a contrasting connotation of the island as a sacred spiritual place, the location of Solovetsky Monastery. Trips to the wooden village Malye Korely near Arkhangelsk will give us a glimpse of the cultural heritage of the Russian European North. They will also constitute a case study of how the North is being integrated into the contemporary global tourist industry and how local folklore culture gets commodified and constructed. Challenges of the industrialised Russian North, such as shrinking and dying northern cities, the social life of their technologies and infrastructures, the dynamics of population movements, life strategies of the local population will be discussed in various industrial settlements and towns on our way. Arkhangelsk, as an important sea port in the Arctic, will serve as an example of the integration of Russia into global trade networks, bringing multicultural influences to a Russian northern town.

Target Group The FENOR school is designed for Ph.D. students and younger researchers in the social sciences who do research in the Arctic and the Russian North. We are inviting proposals from Russia, Europe, US and Canada via the U-Arctic network. The total number of participants is limited to 20 people.

Languages All lectures and seminars will be in English. Knowledge of Russian is not required but will be considered an advantage of the candidate.

Teachers Lectures and seminars will be taught by Prof. Peter Schweitzer (U of Vienna), Prof Nikolai Vakhtin (EUSP), Prof. Florian Stammler (U Lapland), Dr. Veronica Simonova (EUSP), Dr. Gertrude Saxinger (U of Vienna), Dr. Julia Laius (HSE-SPb), and others.

Credit info Participation in the FENOR summer school, with some work done by the students before and after the trip, equals 10 ECTS (250 hours of work).

Fee info Participants cover the expenses for their travel from their location to St. Petersburg and back. The organizers are now exploring possibilities to cover all other costs of the school.

Application and Selection Applicants should apply not later than December 20, 2014. The application package includes:

• a short letter containing a brief description of the student’s motivation to attend the summer school and indicating that the applicant is willing to participate in the FENOR summer school and to accept its rules;

• a short version of applicant’s CV;

• a one-page description of the applicant’s current research topic(s); information about the applicant’s command of the Russian language.

• non-native speakers of English may be subject to additional English language test.

Important note: A second summer school – with a focus on alpine environments – is planned for Austria in summer 2016. In their application letters, students are invited to indicate their willingness to participate in both schools.

Contact info Organizers: Prof. Nikolai Vakhtin (nvakhtin(at)gmail.com) and Prof. Peter Schweitzer (peter.schweitzer(at)univie.ac.at) Administrator: Ms. Ksenia Gawrilova (kgawrilova(at)eu.spb.ru) Any of those can be used to send your applications.

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