Field Work in Western Siberia, Roza Laptander

Starting to the tundra from Aksarka’s central square

Young generation of reindeer herders from Yamal

As a member of the Oral History Anthropology Research Team I am now doing do my field work in Western Siberia, in a little village not far from the capital city of Yamal-Nenets autonomous district.

To readers of the Arctic anthropology blog it should be interesting that the people here are quite surprised by the strange weather in Yamal. It was quite warm here at the beginning of January just – 15°C and was a bit cold at the end of the month approximately – 30 – 33°C and now it is – 22°C again.

Most of the reindeer herders are located close to settlements, and they visit their relatives in villages quite often. They also come by snowmobile to privately sell reindeer meat, making money to buy food and petrol.

Some older people come to the village to visit doctors; some of them at a hospital. Before my trip to the tundra, I already met some of these older people, and got an introduction to the topics of their life and family history.

Roza Laptander

Forest Nenets Fishing – report by Rudolf Havelka

Anthropology Research Team phD student Rudolf Havelka is a little bit more than half way through with his fieldwork among the Forest Nentsy in West Siberia. As Rudolf is an enthusiastic fisherman himself, it wasn’t hard for him to get in tune with this part of Forest Nenets life.

Rudolf with a nice ice-fish harvest

Consequently, after 5 months in the field a very nice popular article that he produced has a short but concise ethnography of fishing there in the various seasons and using various technologies. Particularly for those who can read Czech, it’s worth reading and illustrated with nice photographs. Rudolf is soon going to go back for another field season there and look at contemporary enactments of animist practices in a landscape rugged by oil extraction over the last four decades.

More nice photos you can see at Bryan Alexander’s great home page here . Estonian-French anthropologist and linguist Eva Toulouse has worked a  lot with Forest Nenets and is also very active in networking with them and popularising their cases, particular with the famous writer, activist and reindeer herder Yuri Vella, with whom Rudolf also stayed.