Interview during pandemic: Anna Nerkagi

It has been one year since the coronavirus pandemic became a part of our life and changed it in a very radical way. We follow the rules of the government, we developed some rules for ourselves – and every one of these is made to stay safe and alive. From the beginning of the pandemic until today, people all around the world are shocked by the high number of deaths. 

Here is an interview with the Nenets writer Anna Nerkagi. She has contracted covid and has since recovered. Anna lives in the little village of Laborovaya near the Polar Ural Mountains. She was the only person there who got the virus, and was taken to the regional hospital. But Anna does not remember how she was taken there. For her this was equal to “a little death”, as if she was symbolically killed. Even when she was unconscious, she had heard a voice. She understood perfectly what it was telling her, without any words. This voice told her that Life and Death are two brothers. They have one mother, they have the same blood. They live in the same chum [tent]. Anna is familiar what a chum is, since she has lived in the chum for many years. 

Anna Nerkagi http://arctictime.ru/en/news/nenetskaya-pisatelnitsa-anna-nerkagi-vydvinuta-na-nobelevskuyu-premiyu/

“Life and Death live in the same chum. They have one fire. They love each other. But most of all they love people and they work to serve them. Life and Death – they are like two banks of the same river. That is why they are concerned that people die when it is their time. People must remember this while they are still in their bodies. People should remember this… I can’t say that I love death. Because this is the highest state of a saintly person, to love death and to be ready for that death. Although our ancestors, our fathers, were taught how to be prepared for their death. For example, I remember my grandmother, she died quite calmly, without any panic. That was the first time I realized that death can be quiet and calm. This voice told me that Life and Death are brothers. They have one mother. They have one fire. They have the same blood. And they do one job. They prepare people for death. Because after our human lives we will die. What awaits us is Death. And this death we must later learn to love, understand and accept. And besides knowledge that you must die one day, you should think how you should appear in front of the angel of death. There is a belief that the angel of death is an old ugly woman with a scythe. On the contrary, it is a beautiful angel. But the people to whom it comes, should not be ugly: they should not be drunk, should not be killed, should not use drugs, but should die their own natural death. I must have been given this knowledge to tell people that Life and Death are brothers. They love humans. They want people to live beautifully and die when they are too old to live any more. In the world of the dead people, this person is loved. All their ancestors are waiting for them there. And God awaits them, too.”

This was told to Anna, in order to pass this knowledge to you. Because everyone is going to die, but when it is their own time. People should die but not because of covid, or any other diseases. And not at a young age, because of drugs and alcohol. They should not be killed. Children should also live their lives long and beautifully. Well, the Angel of Death and the Angel of Life, I think, have a lot of work to do right now. And this work is not always joyful. 

Read and watch more here: Анна Неркаги-о воспоминаниях детства, востребованности творчества, о том, чему её учат приёмные дети https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPiUlDZgApc

The Arctic Environmental Responsibility Index – oil and gas better than mining?

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/bse.2698

This has been a long journey and a lot of work several years: jointly with a number of interdisciplinary colleagues, we published our article on the ranking of Arctic extractive industries in terms of environmental responsibility. We might think “how is this related to Arctic Anthropology?”, but it actually is a lot, both because of the content the method we applied are anthropologically inspired. On top of that, we also run an applied agenda with this article, and will be happy if readers further disseminate it in their own networks and make this ranking an “influencer” for the extractive industries, motivating them to perform better for the sake of the environment and the people inhabiting it.

c, F. Stammler. Loading mined ore to a cargo vessel on its journey from Arctic Norway, Narvik, to anywhere in the world. See the ship name: Indian friendship, Monrovia: Arctic extractive industries is globally relevant but should be locally responsible!
Continue reading “The Arctic Environmental Responsibility Index – oil and gas better than mining?”

ENERPO Workshop: Russian Arctic: At the Other End Of the Pipeline

Stephan Dudeck - Arctic Fieldwork

https://eusp.org/sites/default/files/events/preview/2020/IMARES-Workshop-December-ENERPO-Dudeck.png

Now my lecture at the Enerpo programm of the European University at Saint Petersburg is available online.

klick here for the video on https://youtu.be/umcjBkjCrhM

In the lecture I concentrate not only on resource extraction and potential conflict with local forms of livelihood and the cultural dimension behind it (extractivism versus reciprocity) but also on other phenomena social anthropologists study in the Russian North, like e.g. human-animal relations, forms of sociality, oral history, the history of people-state relations, changes in gender arrangements, cultural practices like the use of psychotropic substances (alcohol) or religious rituals and their change. All of that are aspects that one would not automatically associate with the well-known conflict between large corporations and indigenous peoples.

The ENERPO Workshop Series hosts prominent representatives from the fields of academia, business, and politics. ENERPO program guest speakers share their knowledge and experience by touching upon a variety of topics related to Energy Politics…

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The Northern Sea Route and waterway infrastructure in the Russian Arctic: a seminar on anthropological perspectives

The European University at Saint Petersburg will host a seminar on the Northern Sea Route at its research Center for Arctic Social Studies. The seminar will be held in Russian and English and is organized in collaboration with Tyumen State University.

The seminar will take place in St. Petersburg 23-23 November 2021. Please apply with an abstract (up to 500 words) and a short biography (150 words) until the 31st of May 2021 at sevmorput2021@gmail.com. There will be a limited number of travel grants available and you might indicate your need and potential costs. The results of the selection of speakers will be announced until 30th June 2021.
The participants will be asked to submit a manuscript of their paper until 1st November 2021 (around 5000 words) to be circulated among participants before the seminar. See more detail below in Russian

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Prof. Dr. Ulla Johansen passed away

On 14th of February 2021 in her 94th year of life a great person, colleague in Arctic Anthropology and professor emerita of ethnology, Ulla Johansen passed away. Born in Estonia she grew up in a multicultural environment, moved with her parents to Germany, where she studied anthropology after the war in Hamburg. It was her early interests in nomadic and Turkic speaking communities that let her turn to do research on the Sakha and the Soyot cultures and shamanism. Especially in the Republic of Sakha/Yakutia she became a leading figure of scientific exchange and founded in 2012 a scholarship hosted by the German DAAD and named after her. It allows Sakha doctoral candidates specializing in the areas of ethnology, musicology, social sciences or linguistics to receive a six-month research grant and gain experience in Germany. As head of the institute of ethnology at University of Cologne she had a profound effect on generations of German anthropologists, among them some of today’s leading Arctic anthropologists.

Sudden loss of a great research facilitator

This is dedicated to a long term and very good friend, Konstantin Ochepkov, who passed away in Siberia way too early yesterday, just a little over 50 years old. His body was not able to retain victory over covid-19. I have known Kostya (how most of us called him) since I first came to Yamal in the late 1990s, when he lived in the then small village of Yar-Sale, the administrative centre of the Yamal Peninsula.

KostyaOchep_YSA_98b

Continue reading “Sudden loss of a great research facilitator”

Long live the tundra nomads!

Just found out from the local news that in the Novyi Urengoy hospital two Nenets elders survived covid-19 and recovered from pneumonia, at the age of more than 100 years! These elders are so tough! I have also had the honour of meeting quite many people over 100 years old in the tundra particularly during our oral history project, who lived most of their lives with minimal imported stuff: eating mostly meat and fish, bread and tea. Little sugar, being outdoors 24/7 in Yamal, or in the chum, which in terms of fresh air is basically also outdoors:) . This shows that a lifestyle like that is perfectly healthy for the human body, much more so than a life in towns, let alone apartment blocks in skyscrapers… I dedicate this entry to all elders friends I have encountered throughout my field trips since the 1990s, and thank them for their openness, cooperation and their teachings.

Pupta_Pudanasevich_Yamal_2001
Pupta Pudanasevich Yamal, Tambei tundra, spring 2001. He was the ‘father’ of our oral history project, gave the idea for it. He was then over 100 years old, and remembers how Evladov came to visit him the tundra in the 1920s!

PhD jobs, Arctic Anthropology?

Dear readers, the University of Lapland offers four full-time PhD positions in an open call. So basically any topic in Arctic Social Sciences go. I would very much hope that we get many really good candidates from Arctic Anthropology to these jobs, and can fill some of these positions with anthropologists. The positions are probably tied to moving to Rovaniemi, full or at least part time. Please read the job ad here and hopefully compose a good application. If any interested anthropology candidates have background questions they can contact Florian Stammler too.

Language, silence and climate in Yamal

In spring we were proud to host the world’s first anthropological PhD defence in english by a Nenets colleague, Roza Laptander. Now we are happy that she got her first postdoc employment in the big EU Charter project that looks at biodiversity changes, reindeer herding and the climate. We continue working with Roza in work package three of that project, and in this function she shared thoughts on socio-linguistic research, the Yamal Nenets and her work on silence and stories in a video, which you can watch here.

Society 5.0 – new evolutionism towards more inclusive well-being?

Listening to the presentation of Ms Kanae from the Japanese cabinet office at the Japan-Finland Joint Committee meeting on Cooperation in Science and Technology, I was impressed how human social evolution as a concept continues to play such a significant role even in concrete decision making. Japan accepted a holistic radical development plan called society 5.0 which bases on the idea of human evolution since the early hunter-gatherer societies to the future.

The evolutionary aspect of the Society 5.0 concept as introduced in the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan of Japan - source Keidanren paper
Evolution according to Japan’s “society 5.0”, in a paper by the Japanese Business Federation

According to the presentation of Ms Kanae, the distinctive feature of society 5.0 is how cyberspace is integrated with physical space in a sophisticated way. And how economic growth is reconciled with resolution of social issues, which was not as high on the agenda in the previous social development models. The aim is a “human-centered and inclusive society” . The Japanese government plans to work towards this with what they call the “Moonshot Research and Development Programme “. It consists of seven goals, the first of which being mainly about well-being, namely ” Realization of a society in which human beings can be free from limitations of body, brain, space, and time by 2050″.

I liked the unconventional way in which a government official presented this vision of their society of the future, where they want to work towards creating conditions where “everyday life is happy and fun”!

Slide 9 of the Japanese government’s presentation on their view of society 5.0

This makes me think that with the prominent position of happiness and fun not only purposeful and eaudaemonic notions, but also hedonistic notions of well-being play an important role in the society of the future. This is probably also very good news for young people, who in our current research project have emphasized the significance of opportunities to enhance the fun-aspect of life in the North, as particularly Lukas Allemann and Ria Adams shall emphasize in their forthcoming publications.