В Европейском университете в Петербурге появился новый исследовательский центр – Центр социальных исследования Сибири и Севера, aka Center for Arctic Social Studies. Для тех, кто читает по-русски: сведения о Центре и его сотрудниках, новости, проекты и все остальное можно найти здесь.
This is a new joint project by Tyumen State University and European University at Saint-Petersburg planned for 2017–2019 and funded by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.
NSR is a transport route along the Arctic coastline of Russia that connects Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In comparison with the southern route it is regarded as economically advantageous. Successful usage of NSR depends on climate conditions in the region. The round-the-year shipping traffic requires icebreakers and an elaborate backup infrastructure which today does not exist.
The idea of developing NSR is one of Russia’s new «national ideas», part of the governmental discourse “to reclaim the Artic”. The prospects of NSR were discussed during annual Forums of Polar Association (ASPOL). In his public address to the Federal Assembly (2015) President Putin called NSR a primary «link between Europe and Asian-Pacific region» that must be developed. The necessity of investing into NSR development is constantly emphasized by the government.
Navigation in Eurasian coastal areas of Arctic Ocean is documented at least since the 16th century but it was only in the 1930-s that it became possible to complete the trip through NSR within one navigation season. NSR development required various services embedded in local infrastructure, such as seaports, bases of polar aviation, meteorological stations and small coal factories. For this purpose, NSR management often had to establish new settlements to support sea ports and recruit workers or experts from non-Arctic regions.
In 1990-s the NSR traffic declined, parallel to the general economic crisis in the country and the outmigration from the region. According to recent official reports the cargo shipping is now rising again. NSR is now used by industrial companies, such as Norilsk Nickel , to provide the Arctic coast towns with necessary goods.
Some major changes that contribute to NSR reconstruction have already taken place: several centers for rescue service in the coastal area were established under the control of the Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Natural Disasters; military forces once again occupy the islands and archipelagos located in the Arctic seas; at least one platform for offshore oil extraction is in permanent operation in the Pechora sea; and a plant for liquefied gas production is working on the Yamal peninsula. Arctic tourism is also developing.
Outline of the project
The aim of the project is to document the current socio-economical state of seaport towns in order to create a starting point for investigating changes brought by future intensification of NSR traffic. In the absence of such intensification, the project will explore the interplay between the imagined «national» traffic lane and the real situation of the seaport system.
Different practices of imagining NSR constitute a major research focus of the project: the focus is on the structure of NSR imaginary (Steinberg, Tasch, Gerhardt 2015), both in historical and synchronic dimensions, which is shaped by concepts of space (NSR as a specific locality), and that of a transport system.
The project consists of two parts: an archival/historical and a fieldwork/anthropological ones, and focuses on the history of invention and contemporary social life of the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
The archival part of the project will analyze archival data and published sources in order to contribute to the historiography of NSR seaports; it will also explore the concept of NSR through the lens of historical geography. The NSR imaginary will be treated as a product of geographical imagination that now shapes both the official government discourse of “reclaiming the Arctic” and practices or ideas of local communities.
The fieldwork program includes description of current seaport infrastructures and, most importantly, anthropological research of seaport-towns’ communities including ethnographic description of current economic situation, sources of income, subsistence economy and official employment and local infrastructure.
The Team and Geography
The team consists of three researchers from Tyumen’ State University and seven from European University, St Petersburg. The team includes historians and anthropologists, early-career and experienced scholars, Ph.D. students and professors. The team will work on NSR all the way between Murmansk in the west and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii in the far east, which means visiting ten seaport towns and cities: Murmansk, Archangelsk, Indiga, Sabetta, Dikson, Khatanga, Tiksi, Pevek, Anadyr’, Providenia and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii.
- When did the idea of NSR as a whole appear and for which historical period, discourse or community is it relevant?
- The structure of NSR imaginary: what patterns of geographical / infrastructural imagination form the perception of NSR by the local communities’ members?
- The types of seaport settlements: what similarities / differences can be traced between historical paths or post-Soviet transformation scenarios of NSR seaport towns?
- Social structure and identity of seaport towns’ communities: in what way do permanent dwellers of the town identify themselves.
- What are the expectations and fears of the supporting seaports communities?
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
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.