”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

FENOR map

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.

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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Arctic ecology, medecine and biology in Siberia

Nadym, Yamal, the site of the Arctic anthropology interdisciplinary conference Nov 2014

Nadym, Yamal, the site of the Arctic anthropology interdisciplinary conference Nov 2014

Our colleagues from the Arctic Centre in Nadym, Yamal, organise from 17-19 November an interdisciplinary conference. These guys belong to a group of Russian researchers that truly believe in interdisciplinarity, and value a lot anthropological input from the West. If somebody is interested in taking part in that conference, you can write me a note in the comment section here. They promise simultaneous translation, and visa support if somebody wants to go personally. Maybe they can even pay somebody’s accmodation and travel costs within Russia if you can get yourself to Moscow. But mostly the idea is that some of us may contribute a presentation via skype. Topics are welcome in any field of Arctic anthropology, but most preferred maybe with an interdisciplinary angle towards biology, psychology, genetics, health research or medicine.

 

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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.

IMG_2077

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.

IMG_2341

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?

IMG_2333

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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