Cities and Water in a Time of Climate Change

International PhD Academy June 1–5, 2020 in Venice

last call for Applications until February 15, 2020 via VIU website!

Join this unique opportunity for a broad global comparison of climate change results from the Arctic to the Global South, from Asia to Europe in one of the cities, that is much affected by climate change and dependent on water.

Our planet is suffering dramatic urgencies, exacerbated by climate change.
Excess and lack of water largely impact urban life in our cities and territories. Floodings and droughts are among the main causes of social tension, migrations among continents, desertification and hydrogeological risks, loss in food production, inadequate waste treatment.
Cities use too much water and too quickly for nature to keep up, and there is an urgent need to radically rethink the role of water in cities. Reducing consumption and better use of water is not enough under the pressure of climate change. Water is largely mismanaged: the preservation of aquifers and the extension of the lifecycle of water for entire cities is necessary.

Faculty
Maria Chiara Tosi, Iuav University of Venice (Coordinator)
Margherita Turvani, Iuav University of Venice (Coordinator)
Francesco Musco, Iuav University of Venice
Paola Viganò, Iuav University of Venice
Bruno De Meulder, KU Leuven
Kelly Shannon, KU Leuven
Jiane Zuo, Tsinghua University
Michele Vurro, National Research Council of Italy
Andrea D’Alpaos, University of Padua
Patrizio Antici, INRS, Canada
Uwe Lübken, Ludwig Maximilian University
Oleg Pachenkov, EUSP
Stephan Dudeck, EUSP
Renzo Rosso, Polytechnic University of Milan
Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, IOM, New York
Gideon Wolfaardt, Stellenbosch University

The one-week program is structured as a series of guest lectures (from the universities partner and others), poster presentations from the participants PhD students and transversal skill sessions, structured to guide the participants towards the development and presentation of group projects.

Four thematic modules:
– Settlements and water in a time of climate change
– Historical and geographical perspectives
– Climate migrants, water, food, urban daily life
– Urban projects-policies, water projects-policies
– Site visits to provide participants with practical examples of the issues at stake.

The program also includes a parallel program of training in a range of Transversal Skills for developing their academic careers, and poster sessions for the participants to present their PhD research projects.

Who can apply?
This PhD Academy is offered to PhD students, post-docs and researchers in Urban Design, Urban Studies, Urban planning, Geography, Sociology, Economics, History of cities and water, Environmental Science and Engineering.
The PhD Academy is primarily for candidates from VIU’s member universities, although applications from excellent external candidates will be considered and evaluated. External candidates admitted to the PhD Academy will pay fees (further information available in the Brochure). VIU Alumni are eligible for a reduced fee.
Students from the VIU member institutions will pay no participation fees. Grant support is also available to support, partially or fully, the costs of international travel; accommodation on campus, in shared rooms, will be offered.

Applicants must submit the (1) application form, (2) a letter of motivation – which should include a short bio and a brief description of the candidate’s research project, (3) a curriculum vitae and (4) a photo.
For further information: please download the Brochure and the Program or write to phdacademy@univiu.org

WHO/ВОЗ

1st December: “World Aids Day” Всемирный день борьбы со СПИДом – ВИЧ и коренные народы Севера в России HIV and indigenous peoples in Russia

(English version see bеlow, after the end of the Russian text)

WHO/ВОЗ
picture: WHO/ВОЗ

В связи с этой датой хотелось бы обратить внимание на один аспект эпидемии ВИЧ-инфекции в России, который еще недостаточно изучен и мало известен широкой общественности.  Я и сам относительно недавно узнал о нем.

Как показывают исследования у коренного населения Севера риск заразиться ВИЧ выше, чем у остальных жителей России (см. Буторов 2018, Волова и Родиниа 2016, 2014 Истомин и Мефодьев 2015). Эта инфекция в России встречается гораздо чаще, чем в странах Европы, а среди коренного населения Ямало-Ненецкого и Ханты-Мансийского округов ВИЧ распространяется еще быстрее. Continue reading “1st December: “World Aids Day” Всемирный день борьбы со СПИДом – ВИЧ и коренные народы Севера в России HIV and indigenous peoples in Russia”

Call for Workshop contributions “Gender in Polar Research: Gendered field work conditions, epistemologies and legacies”

A two-day workshop in the framework of

Arctic Science Summit Week 2020, Akureyri, Iceland, 29-30(TBC) March 2020

funded by IASC – the International Arctic Science Committee

Gender in the Arctic

The IASC Social Sciences and Humanities Working Group (WG), together with IASC’s Cryosphere, Marine, and Terrestrial WGs, invites you to a unique cross-disciplinary workshop attempting to bring together the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities in order to discuss and reflect on the gendered nature of Polar research.
The workshop will combine three strands of debate that have thus far not been discussed systematically: (1) Doing science in the 21st century in a way that departs from but also pays careful attention to the history of exploration and colonial endeavours as “heroic” and masculine activities – while a masculine image still seems to dominate the methodologies and practices of Arctic and Polar research. (2) The still existing gender gap when it comes to female researchers in hard sciences, their career prospects, and their sometimes difficult working conditions as women in the field. Critiques of the gender gap and gendered research work have thus far neglected the diversity aspects of queer and gender minority (LGBTQI) researchers. They face particular challenges while working in a still largely heteronormative research environment as it is described for research stations, vessels or tundra/taiga camps. (3) The gendered composition of researchers as actors and the gendered spaces of conducting research, including the field sites, have an important impact on research interests, research design, research ethics and epistemology. The gender bias affects the research subject and methodology, and Polar research can learn from and communicate with other fields of science about how to ensure a high standard of equality, sensitivity to issues of marginalization, and ethical production of science.

We invite participants of the ASSW 2020 from natural and social sciences to pop by at the workshop and to join the discussions and break-out groups. Participants will be engaged through alternative formats to gain a maximum of knowledge exchange as well as to map out the state of the art and ideas about where to go from there.

We invite abstracts for a great variety of contributions in conversation with the three themes outlined above: besides as a set of classic academic papers (15 min) and short inputs (5 min) (e.g. sharing experiences or introducing NGOs and movements).

In particular, the workshop facilitates discussions and break-out group work for examining pressing issues in the thematic fields based on individual, group and scholarly experience and activism. Audiovisual or artistic contributions are very welcome. Also join us for volunteering as an organiser of a break-out group.

Submission of proposal and request for funding

Describe your contribution with an abstract of max 250 words and submit at the latest on the 1st of October 2019 to: gertrude.saxinger@univie.ac.at and otto.habeck@uni-hamburg.de

We can fund a limited number of participants up to 800 euros each. Priority will be given to early-career researchers. Please, indicate your financial need in your message to us.

For more information see IASSA Working Group Gender in the Arctic

https://gender-arctic.jimdo.com/

 

New PhD Position at the University of Kiel in Human Reindeer Interactions

The University of Kiel, Germany announces a
PhD Position “Human-reindeer interactions in contemporary and ancient Siberian communities”
in the fields of Cultural Anthropology, Zooarchaeology, Archaeology

The term is fixed for a period of 3,5 years (42 months).Reindeer are intensively herded as a means of subsistence and symbolic identity in many circumpolar societies, but, unique for husbanded animals, lack clear expressions of the ‘domestication syndrome’. Taiga reindeer herding strategies can be seen as domestication-in-practice; they probably impact more strongly on reindeer behavior and biology than the large-scale herding practices in the North Eurasian tundra. Evolutionary changes to the phenotype and the genome of reindeer as well as health-related impacts through such taiga human-animal cohabitation systems are still poorly understood and require more empirical research. The successful candidate will contribute to this field, investigating the evolution of human-reindeer interactions and the emergence of reindeer herding as a means of food production, transport and ideological expression in the Western Siberia taiga through combined ethno-archaeological and zooarchaeological scientific approaches guided by a rigorous theoretical framework grounded in cultural anthropology.

The full announcement can be found here

International conference on “Local horse breeding in Russia in the past, present and future”, June 22-24, 2018

It is worth travelling north in mid June to experience one of the wonders of the Arctic. It is polar day when the sun disappears only for a very short time under the horizon and the sunset is fading into a sunrise for hours during the night colouring the horizon in a million different shades of blue, red and yellow.

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Mezen mare with its foal in Lampozhnya, photo: Christian Vagt

I enthusiastically confirmed when I received an invitation to visit a conference on local horse breeds in Russia often threatened by extinction. Accompanied by my friend and photographer Christian Vagt I travelled the long road to the old Russian town of Mezen. Small workshop-like symposia in contrast to big international conferences allow for a more intense exchange of ideas. They enable to establish close contacts among colleagues that often grow into future collaborations or even friendship.

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The author speaking about human animal symbiotic adaptation in the Arctic, photo: Christian Vagt

This conference was organised by the leading specialist on the Mezen horse breed Irina Borisovna Yur’eva of the Arkhangelsk Scientific Institute of Agriculture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. One of the main impressions left by the event was that around the local horse breeds in Russia you also always meet a special breed of people – real enthusiasts who fight not only for their cause, but are also amazingly communicative and social.

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the conference organiser Irina Borisovna Yur’eva at the conference dinner, photo: Christian Vagt

People of different scientific institutions from Russia, Belorussia, Norway and Finland visited the conference in the regional centre – the town of Mezen – and on the second and third day of the conference travelled to the nearby village of Lampozhnya. Here, at one of the oldest settlements on the Mezen River they witnessed a two days horse tourism competition, where local people and guests compete with their own and their horses’ skills in riding and hiking.

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Participants of the competition with their Mezen horses, photo: Christian Vagt

I presented the results of the Anthropology Team of the Arctic Centre Rovaniemi as the comparative research on human-animal relations in the Arctic Ark project. We contrasted the sociocultural significance and vernacular breeding practices of three different horse breeds and the forms of adaptation of the human-animal relationship in a changing Arctic.

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Cultural program, photo: Christian Vagt

Colleagues coming mostly from agricultural sciences and biology were greatly interested in the insights in symbiotic adaptation of humans and horses and the idea of distance and independence as important for social relations in the North.

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Theory and practice hand in hand, photo: Christian Vagt

We could witness a heated discussion between two conceptual factions of colleagues – one promoting maximum contact with animals as the goal of horse breeding and the other claiming that you neither have to ride nor manage the horses’ behaviour with that much scrutiny in order to understand and build relations with the animal.

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The founder of the village Lampey brings the trophies, photo: Christian Vagt

Other, yet not much studied differences in human relations with horses involve gender aspects. We very well know the transition of horse breeding from am masculine domain in an agriculturalist context to the favourite hobby of girls in an urban setting. There seems to also be a distinction of between those riders and hobby breeders who favour mares and those that favour stallions.

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Q&A after the presentation, photo: Christian Vagt

Russia is divided into regions where horsemeat is the most important economic asset of horse breeding but also of high cultural value, and others, where it is considered almost a taboo or symbol of economic and cultural decline to breed horses for meat. I was surprised to learn that Russia is an importer of horsemeat from abroad and often meat of low quality is brought into the country. While in Norway or Finland horses are mostly held for the growing business of breeding sports horses, the local horse breeding in Russia shows the full range of the different uses of horses from their role as working horses in agriculture and pastoralism, in meat production, recreation and tourism as well as hippotherapy, to its use in cultural events and sports.

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River crossing to the village of Lampozhnya, photo: Christian Vagt

Some links to institutions, which took part in the conference (only in Russian):

The Arkhangelsk Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture of the Primorsky Branch of Federal State Budgetary Institution on Science (FSBIS) Federal Research Centre of Complex Study of the Arctic (FRCCSA) of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) – the leading institution of research on the Mezen horse coordinated by Irina Borisovna Yur’eva.

The director Alexander Mikhailovich Zaicev and other staff of the Russian Scientific Research Institute of Horse Breeding which is the leading institution researching local horse breeds in Russia.

The Vavilov Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Laboratory of Comparative Animal Genetics

The Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy

The Scientific-Art Museum of Horse Breeding in Moscow:

The Zoological Museum of Moscow University, head of research Natalia Spasskaya

Sever – the information resource of the Mezen region

Animal breeding and genetics group of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, head of research group Gunnar Klemetsdal

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The author with the heraldic animal of the town of Mezen, photo: Christian Vagt

 

Exploring the Arctic at Venice International University

Scholars, indigenous activists and students from both sides of the Atlantic (or Pacific?) met at the small Venetian island of San Servolo from 14th to 19th of January 2018. I am reporting here as part of a group of three professors and five students from Russia who attended the international graduate seminar “Northern Territories and Indigenous Peoples: Comparative perspectives”.  Almost 40 participants from Canada and the US, from Italy, Belgium, Germany and Russia attend the event at Venice International University.

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Maria Momzikova from the EUSP presenting her research (Photo Julia Kovyrshina)

“The crucial thing is the way one can inhabit space. We do not have the chance to evaluate space in the same way in the North of Russia and Canada with their vast territories and sparse population. Old labyrinth-like Venice taught me to be satisfied with a tiny imagination of possibilities of life in the era of global warming, among the melting ice.” Anastasia Karaseva from Saint Petersburg.

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A. Karaseva with the blog-author on the Rialto bridge (Photo Julia Kovyrshina)

It might seem strange to travel to Venice in January to discuss the Arctic. There might be few places on earth that seem to be less similar to each other – Venice being a densely populated small island and the Arctic as a place including different continents whose borders and populations are even difficult if not impossible to define clearly. Also in historical terms – when the star of Venice was already declining, the Arctic just started to appear on the maps of geographers. Interesting connections start to evolve: one of the early geographical atlases “Ptolemy’s Geographiae Universae” edited by Giovanni Antonio Magini and printed 1596 in Venice by Heredes Simoni Galignani presents already maps of the Arctic. Among them, a description of Siberia called Tartariae Imperium. Venetian glass was popular at that time in Russia and reached the new established Arctic towns like Mangazeya. The hunger for northern goods fuelled the expansion of trade routes into the Arctic since the middle ages and provoked the time of explorations of the 17th and 18th centuries – when the hegemony in trade for Venice was already over.

20180117-_MG_1217And of course both the Arctic and Venice suffer from exotization being inundated with cliché and imagination. For the outside world they are the source of and endless stream of kitsch but also of the uncanny and demonic that is haunting the unconscious like in Hugo Pratt’s comic “Corto Maltese: In Siberia”. It might not be the best idea to start in Venice and go on a journey to Siberia in order to collect all exotic clichés and stereotypes. It might be more productive to make the reverse journey from the ‘periphery’ and try to take a sober look at the ability of both places to enchant imaginations but also to look at the social relations and power configurations behind them.

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An unconscious reminiscence of “Don’t Look Now”

The program of the Graduate Seminar interestingly united quite diverse anthropological schools. The main group was formed by researchers from Canadian universities and the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) as a cooperation with the DIALOG- Aboriginal Peoples Research and Knowledge Network. The seminar constituted for them the 14th edition of the Nomadic University intensive training program.

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The island of San Servolo with the Venice International University campus (Photo Julia Kovyrshina)

Another research tradition was present through researchers from Russia in particular from the High School of Economics and the European University at Saint Petersburg. Every of this schools represent different histories and developed different methodological approaches. They even differ in their view on the relations of indigenous peoples and other inhabitants of the Arctic. To look at social problems from the perspective of trauma and healing for instance is very unusual for researchers from Russia as it is for North-Americans to look at white people not as settlers. But research grounded in fieldwork dealing with everyday life of local inhabitants is easily understandable for scholars working in different parts and historic traditions in the Arctic.

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Place of pilgrimage for Russians in Venice (Photo Julia Kovyrshina)

The main target group were PhD and master students from North America, Asia and several European countries doing research mostly on and with indigenous groups. Among the teachers were indigenous activists as well. To understand the different languages of academic disciplines and schools and to detect overlapping and differences might have been the most fruitful exercise during the seminar. A lot of discussion of course as always during scientific events happened at the corridor talk at coffee breaks, receptions and during the free time. Maybe even the town added some transcendental notes to the atmosphere of the seminar as one of the Russian participants put it. One of the Canadian participants told one of the students from Venice at the first session, when she admired the view over the lagoon from the window of the lecture hall: “It’s a shame to read the papers in this weather!” to which the Venetian student replied, “I live here – it’s a shame to study in Venice”.

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View from the window of the lecture hall over the lagoon (Photo Julia Kovyrshina)

 

Khanty activists Agrafena Sopochina travelled to Lapland

Together with with my friend and colleague Agrafena Semjonovna Sopochina and her daughter Marija Launonen travelled recently through northern Finland and Norway, to Tallinn and to St. Petersburg during the second part of August 2016. A detailed travelogue about our journey I published here and here.

laplandia-93We made contacts with Sámi activists and politicians, artists and reindeer herders, among the the president of the Sámi parliament in Finnland Tiina Juulia Sanila-Aikio or Skolt Sami: Paavvâl Taannâl Tiina and Johan Mathis Turi, the former president of the Worlds reindeer herders association and a great specialist in reindeer herding culture all over the Arctic. laplandia-194

But the biggest Thank You goes to Marina Falevitch from the Sámi Education Institute, who not only relieved me with the task to connect Agrafena to the Sámi world of Inari, but also hosted and fed us during our stay in Inari!laplandia-45

 

The Khanty Bear Feast revisited

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The honored bear’s head (Photo Antti Tenetz)

I have visited the Western Siberian Khanty in the vicinity of the oil towns in the Surgut region for twenty years now. Never could I have imagined I would see a performance of the famous Khanty Bear Ceremony documented thirty years ago by the Estonian intellectual and film director Lennar Meri in his film ”The Sons of Torum”. I was certain that the practice of organising a several days long ritual after a successful bear hunt had become extinct among the Khanty at the Tromyogan, Pim, and Agan Rivers north of the middle Ob River in Western Siberia.

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Reindeer sacrifice at the beginning of the Bear Feast (Photo Antti Tenetz)

A generation after Lennart Meri had filmed the Surgut Khanty, I thought the time was due to revisit the remaining participants of “The Sons of Torum”. I wanted to learn how they remembered the bear festival and why it had ceased being performed. I set out with multimedia artist Antti Tenetz to the Tromyogan River in November 2015 to visit Iosif, the son of the main protagonist of the film, the shaman Ivan Stepanovich Sopochin. We showed him Meri’s film and promised to repatriate copies of the recordings made in 1988. At the end of our journey, we received the surprising invitation to attend a new attempt to perform the ceremony. Up to the very last moment when I arrived in March 2016 with Antti at the Tromyogan River, we were not sure if we would really have the possibility to participate in the ceremony and whether we would be allowed to make the recordings we had intended.

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Awakening of the bear (photo Antti Tenetz)

We learned upon arrival that the official initiator of the event, the Khanty folklorist Timofei Moldanov of the Torum-Maa Museum was counting on our recording devices in order to document the whole ritual. Three linguists, Lyudmila Kayukova, Agrafena Sopochina and Zsófia Schön suggested to collaborate on the documentation of the ritual and we met two long-time friends, Olga Kornienko, a film maker from Surgut, and Aleksei Rud’, a PhD student from Ekaterinburg. The main local performer and organiser of the ritual, Sergei Vasilievich Kechimov, was also very keen on documenting the whole ritual and allowed us to film virtually everything.

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Antti Tenetz, Stephan Dudeck, Lyudmila Kayukova, Zsófia Schön (from left to right)

The ritual started with a reindeer sacrifice near the Tromyogan River in the presence of the remains of the hunted bear. A ritual entrance into the house of ceremony and a divination ritual followed. The symbolic five days of the feast, containing theatrical performances, dances and songs were fit into three days from the morning of 21st March to the morning of 24th March 2016. We learned about the clear distinction between shamanic rituals and the bear feast, which explicitly excludes every shamanic practice. It’s another strict taboo to argue and take offence during the days of the feast filled with laughter at even the most coarse jokes.

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Performance with mask (photo Antti Tenetz)

Curious TV journalists showed up and left us with mixed feelings as they showed no interest in the meaning of the ritual and its ethics among the Khanty. They all left bored by the long repetitive songs on the second day. The first days consisted of eleven hours of performances while the last day and night the performers didn’t stop singing, acting and dancing for 23 hours. I recognised with pleasure all generations and quite a number of young Khanty were present.

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Sergei Sopochin with Narkisyukh and Jakov Rynkov with the ritual stick for marking the performances (photo Antti Tenetz)

The future will show what direction the research of the performance will take. It will have to start from the interest of the Khanty to repatriate the collected and archived materials and to revitalise the bear ceremonial. A priority will be to make the recordings available to potential singers. I am still amazed by what I have witnessed and have already discovered a lot of details not yet mentioned in the existing literature on the Surgut Khanty bear feast.

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Performance with mask (photo Antti Tenetz)

In contrast to the well researched bear feast of the northern Khanty and the Mansi, descriptions of the ceremony among the Khanty along the middle Ob remain rare. At the beginning of the 20th century, two researchers were able to visit a Surgut Khanty bear festival, Kustaa Fredrik Karjalainen on 10th January 1901 near Surgut, and Raisa Pavlovna Mitusova on 3rd September 1924 in the settlement Yaur-yaun-pugol by the Agan River.

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Semjon Rynkov singing (centre), Danil Pokachev and Andrei Ernykhov backing (photo Antti Tenetz)

The main research questions have yet to be determined but some general directions have already become clear. The research will have to reach beyond the common discourse of victimisation and endangerment to explore the complexity of cultural revitalisation in the form of killing and reincarnation. My starting point is the insight that the ritual as well as ethnographic film deal with the relationship of difference and affinity and with death and return. The bear ritual encounters the bear as a significant other. It stresses the difference and affinity of the bear to the human community and transforms the dead bear into a cultural hero and implements a long lasting relationship between the hunter and the prey as well as the human with the non-human spiritual being. To be part of this process and to start to understand such a unique cultural performance is what makes anthropology one of the most exciting professions in the world.

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Sergei Kechimov singing (photo Antti Tenetz)

In August 1985 and 1988, Lennart Meri recorded the bear festival at the settlement Vat’-Yaun-Pugol at the invitation of the Khanty writer Yeremei Aipin, who left a short description of the ritual in one of his novels. The musicologists Jarkko Niemi and Katalin Lázár and the Hungarian linguist Márta Csepregi recorded some bear songs with the Surgut Khanty in the 1990s which have remained unpublished until today. Parts of bear songs collected by Jarkko Niemi were published in 2001 on the CD ”The Great Awakening”. Olga Balalaeva and Andrew Wiget have recorded bear feast performances at the neighbouring Yugan River.

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Sergei Kechimov singing (photo Antti Tenetz)