ORHELIA: ORal History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic

Hurraa! The anthropology resaerch team is VERY pleased and positively surprised about the big honour to have got a significant research grant by the research council for culture and society at the Academy of Finland.

What will this be about? This research contributes to developing a comparative history of relations between states and their remote subjects in the eyes of Arctic elders, so to say contributes to rewriting history ‘from the top of the world’. It aims to do so by using the method of life history analysis and oral history fieldwork combined with anthropological participant observation. Doing so, the project will also contribute to preserve incorporeal cultural heritage among Uralic speaking and former Uralic speaking northern minorities of Europe.

Yambonya Vengo, almost 100 years old, tells ORHELIA researcher Roza Laptander about the Soviet Union

But rather than ‘just’ talking to elders in the Arctic, in this project we will also try to find out through comparative analysis 1)  how states shape their’ peripheries’ in general, how they are perceived by the people, and 2) how experience by elders gets transmitted down the generation and to what extent does this transmission of incorporeal cultural experience shape the next generation’s perception of the state and, respectively, their approach to action vis a vis the state.  Thus, the project is very interested in theory of empires, anthropology of the state in addition to social and transmission of culturally significant experiences.

The competition for these grants is very high and we feel the high trust and expectation that is set in to the team to fulfil the work. The proposal had been reviewed by five different experts who made valuable contributions which we will surely consider while implementing the project from September 2011 – August 2015. From September on we will have a website probably at http://www.arcticcentre.org/orhelia, which will inform about the basics of the project, the field sites, people involved and type of work to be carried out. We had a first pre-project meeting partially on the phone where we agreedwhat has to be done before we meet in late August / early September to start the project.

Press release here.  Preliminary fieldwork for this project was carried out in Yamal, one of the field sites, in April 2011, thanks to pre-project support by a TV company. See the entry in this blog for a short report.

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One Response to ORHELIA: ORal History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic

  1. Pingback: Collecting oral history in the village | Stephan Dudeck – Arctic Fieldwork

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