VSP Journal in Arctic Anthropology – by Nikolai Vakhtin

(A Fantasy)

No one can read everything others write in one’s field.

Drowning in too many writings of your colleagues? picture credit: http://filologiy.ucoz.ru/
Drowning in too many writings of your colleagues? picture credit: http://filologiy.ucoz.ru/

One of the reasons is that we use too many words to express our thoughts. Papers start with theories and explanations that the reader either knows or doesn’t need – because we want to write papers, not abstracts. Books are usually much longer than they could have been because we want them to be books, not papers, and books can’t be shorter than… – many publishers will even provide you with exact number of pages.

Most books are 270 pages long. Some are 900 pages long. Some time ago I had to review a book that was 1400 pages long. Who can read all this carefully, not simply scan the text, if books come out at the rate of ten per month? Continue reading “VSP Journal in Arctic Anthropology – by Nikolai Vakhtin”

New book on polar geopolitics

Narratives, bureaucracies and indigenous legal orders: Resource governance in Finnish Lapland is the title of our chapter in a volume titled “Polar Geopolitics? Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes”, which has been published end of January. The aim of our chapter is twofold: Firstly, to examine narratives of indigeneity and secondly to investigate how these are tied into struggles over natural resources. Especially the narrative of indigenous peoples being the “original ecologists” seems to open up opportunities for claim-making by indigenous groups, but on the other hand also allows for patronising approaches to resource management in indigenous homeland. The specific example we then look at is the conflict over forest resources in Finnish Upper Lapland, and in particular the Nellim conflict. In the following, we discuss how state bureaucracies sometimes contradict local management regimes, which, in the case of Upper Lapland, are still based on indigenous legal order. To illustrate this contradiction, we juxtapose reindeer herding principles of the Finnish state and of the indigenous Sàmi population adhering to the notion of “reindeer luck”.

polar

Together with the chapters by Lassi Heininen, Jeppe Strandsbjerg and Mark Nuttall our text forms Part III, “Indigenous and Northern Geopolitics”.  Part I of this volume focuses on “Global and Regional Frameworks” and part II engages with “National Visions”. Follow the link below and check out the excellent contributions to this book, edited by Richard C Powell and Klaus Dodds, and published by Edward Elgar.

http://www.e-elgar.co.uk/bookentry_main.lasso?id=15044

Enjoy reading!

Hannah and Nuccio

Solitude in the wake of Willem Barentsz

A very new book with many beautiful pictures and a colourful text made by photographer Jeroen Toirkens and writer Petra Sjouwerman, with a historical epilogue by Diederik Veerman, was recently published in the Netherlands. It tells about a trip made following the so-called ‘Barents Road’ on the Barents Region, to the area that has been described as Europe’s last wilderness. It is in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Just like the Barents Sea the Barents region was named in 1993 after the sixteenth century Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz. It was done at the initiative of the Norwegian minister for foreign affairs Thorvald Stoltenberg, who wanted by this way to improve collaboration between these four northern countries in the fields of culture, education, environment and indigenous peoples.

Here is an interview made with one of the authors – Jeroen Toirkens

R.L.:Jeroen, how did you get this idea to write a book about Willem Barentsz? Continue reading “Solitude in the wake of Willem Barentsz”

New publication: Nomadic and Indigenous Spaces. Productions and Cognitions

Nomadic and Indigenous Spaces. Productions and Cognitions. Edited by Judith Miggelbrink, Joachim Otto Habeck, Nuccio Mazzullo and Peter Koch (2013). Surrey: Ashgate.

With contributions from the editors, Denis Wood, Denis Retaillé, Gail Fondahl, Brian Donahoe, Joseph J Long, Kirill V Istomin, Florian Stammler, Claudio Aporta, and Tim Ingold (epilogue)

Nomadic-&-Indigenous-Spaces

How is space produced and how is it perceived? Looking at nomadic and indigenous peoples, we investigated this question between 2008 and 2012 in a collaborative research project between the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland and the Leibniz-Institute in Leipzig, Germany. A conference we organised in 2010 brought together international scholars to discuss experiences from different fields.  During the conference, it quickly became clear that cognitivist and phenomenologist paradigms come to very different interpretations of nomadic and indigenous spaces. This book continues that debate and invites readers to further engage with the topic, since the main contestations have not been resolved, as Tim Ingold notes in his epilogue. Continue reading “New publication: Nomadic and Indigenous Spaces. Productions and Cognitions”

70 years after Mandalada – the Nenets movement against collectivization in the tundra

One of the biggest tragedies for the Nenets nation happened on 21th June 1943 in the Polar Ural Mountains. Officially Mandalada is known as the struggle of this little tundra nation against new Soviet empire rules. It was heavily suppressed by soviet authorities. It is often referred to as a Nenets uprising. Unofficially – people just tried to survive during that time. It was their reaction against authorities who started to confiscate their last belongings during World War II. How would they survive the winter in the arctic tundra without clothes, food and reindeer?

Near Polar Ural, Yamal,  Western Siberia.

Near Polar Ural. Photo R. Laptander

Therefore people tried to hide with their families in the open tundra and survive this way the pressure of the communist regime. There was a small group of people who were prepared to resist local authorities in case they would take rigorous measures against their families. Soldiers where sent against this people and tried to arrest the men. The Nenets had no means to resist and had to give up after a short skirmish. 36 men were arrested and their belongings confiscated forcing their families to starve and to search for help near the settlements. Most of the arrested men died in prison or on the way to the prison camps.

N. Khudi. His father was among this Mandalada people.

N. Khudi’s father was among the Mandalada people in the Polar Ural Mountains. He tried to hide this fact during all his life. Photo. R. Laptander

It is a pity that there are not so many people left who could tell us about this part of Nenets history. For a long time it was almost a taboo among the Nenets to talk about the time of collectivization. The Mandalada was really a turning point in Nenets history which changed cardinally their relationship to the state authorities.

While doing oral history interviews I was very much surprised that the memories about this movement are still alive among the elder generation of Nenets. Once an old man told me he read in one Russian journal that nobody could tell anymore about what really had happened because all eyewitnesses of the events are dead already. This old Nenets wanted to correct that statement and prove that there are still memories about the Mandalada. People keep them in their collective historical memory. I could tell a lot about the superficial adaptation of Nenets to the Soviet regime, but in reality it has a tragic background. Of course it helped people to integrate into the Soviet regime and society.

Slowly life in the tundra became more or less stable and prosperous again. People tried to forget the Mandalada tragedy and the people who suffered. They even stopped to talk about them. By this way Nenets probably tried to hide their pain. Maybe it was an act of self-defense from the shock, bewilderment, confusion, and fear that this could happen, and that no one is ever protected from the harsh and cruel wheel of the state policy. During my oral history work on the Yamal tundra I managed to collect these stories. It was an acknowledgement of the fact that even if people try to forget their trauma, they have to live with it for a long time and this historical trauma can cause social problems in their communities.

A longer Russian version of this article is available at http://priuralye.ucoz.ru/news/mandalada_70_let_spustja/2013-09-06-1680 and http://www.yasavey.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=678:-70-&catid=67:2013-09-16-09-03-55

More information in English  http://www.academia.edu/479640/Two_Wars_in_Conflict_Resistance_among_Nenets_Reindeer_Herders_in_the_1940s_2005_

New book about the history of the Sámi from Russia during Soviet times – online open access

My book “The Sámi of the Kola Peninsula: About the life of an ethnic minority in the

Children from several northern indigenous peoples attending the Northern Peoples university studies preparation faculty at the Herzen Pedagogical University in Leningrad
Children from several northern Indigenous Peoples attending the Northern Peoples university studies preparation faculty at the Herzen Pedagogical University in Leningrad (1955)

Soviet Union” has been recently translated into English and published on the internet within the publication series of the Centre for Sámi Studies at the University of Tromsø. Using extensive biographical interviews as a primary source, this oral history study steps into an important research gap and explores the forced resettlements which most of the Sámi in in the Russian part of Lapland had to undergo during the 1930s till 1970s.

You can download and read the book here: http://septentrio.uit.no/samskrift

I would like to thank the Centre for Sámi Studies of the University of Tromsø (Norway) for suggesting to publish an English version of my book within this series, and the programme “Focal Point North” (Tromsø Forskningstiftelse, University of Tromsø) for providing funding for the translation of the German manuscript into English.

Here’s a short description of the book: Continue reading “New book about the history of the Sámi from Russia during Soviet times – online open access”

Controversies in northern mining: Mika Flöjt’s book: ‘just’ Nickel, or Uranium?

According to the EU paper   “Analysis of the competitiveness of the non-energy extractive industry in the EU” from 2007, Fennoscandia is planned to be a centre of mining in Europe, alongside other world centres in Australia and Eastern Canada.
We just listened to a presentation here in Rovaniemi where Mika Flöjt tried to summarise the arguments of his recent book on Europe’s biggest Nickel Mine, Talvivaara. The book is in Finnish. Therefore I found it useful to put a summary of what he said up here for those interested in the Arctic extractive industries.

Talvivaara Mine Site. Europe's biggest Nickel or also Uranium mine?

His paper raises several hot questions relevant for northern extractive industries and processes of information management and decision making in general.
Continue reading “Controversies in northern mining: Mika Flöjt’s book: ‘just’ Nickel, or Uranium?”

Circumpolar Book publication

Ziker, John & Florian Stammler (eds) 2011. Histories from the North. Environments, Movements and Narratives. Proceedings of the Final BOREAS Conference Rovaniemi, Finland, October 29-31, 2009. Boise (ID): Department of Anthropology, Boise State University in conjunction with Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland

for copies please contact one of the editors, Stammler for Europe and Russia, Ziker for the rest of the world

Continue reading “Circumpolar Book publication”

SEC Seminar – Preserving Endangered Languages and Local Knowledge: Learning tools and community initiatives in cross-cultural discussion

Unfortunately interdisciplinary approaches are often declared but rarely put into practice. That’s why I was especially happy to take part in a joint endeavour of linguists and anthropologists at the Foundation of Siberian Cultures in Germany to organize a seminar and a joint publication project on language preservation and education activities in indigenous communities in the North and in the South.

Next to a beautiful lake in the small town of Fürstenberg, ninety kilometres north of Berlin Erich Kasten and Tjeerd de Graaf organized at the beginning of January 2012 already the second meeting to discuss papers dealing with alternative school models for reindeer herders in Siberia and with the situation of language minorities in the Netherlands, Russia and China. The presented papers facilitated a deeper understanding of processes of language change and of the preconditions for the preservation of linguistic diversity.

Erich Kasten, Olivia Kraef, Stephan Dudeck, Tjeerd de Graaf, Victor Denisov and Michael Duerr

A lot of languages are in danger of extinction and minority languages experiencing a loss of language prestige and interest in intergenerational transmission. Scientific research deals with endangered languages often like biologists with rare plant or animal species that are only worth of scientific analysis before they will inevitably die out.

The top-down approach for the development and implementation of educational materials and language preservation programs usually suffers from a lack of response from local communities. State policies claim the safeguarding of languages, but they regularly promote artificial standards and folklorized and commodified versions of indigenous cultures and often provide the colourful façade for the attempts to erase any difference in lifestyle and values for the purpose of integration and bureaucratic control of the minority population. But in some cases the local population reacts with resistance to colonizing policies and use sometimes colourful façades to hide their internal cultural practices from the interference of outsiders.

"Lenin lives, lived and will live"  a rare preserved Lenin in Eastern Germany
"Lenin lived, lives and will live" or "Everything was forever until it was no more"

First responses of the participants of the seminar indicate that particular attention should be paid to the discussion of adequate modern learning tools and culturally-related teaching methods. In addition, we should consider the particular social and political environments and – as far as possible – find out how to influence these in favourable ways. Without careful ethnographic work and sociolinguistic analysis projects aiming at the preservation of languages and local knowledge can have the opposite effect.

Two of the researchers involved in the Orhelia project will contribute to the planned volume with papers about alternative educational projects in Western Siberia. Roza Laptander writes about the development of a model for a tundra school in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region as a new form of education for children from nomadic and semi-nomadic Nenets families. The title of Stephan Dudeck’s paper is: “Challenging the state educational system in Western Siberia: taiga-school and multimedia centre on the Tiuityakha river.”

Additionally, a DVD with booklets in various languages will summarize the outcomes of this seminar for local communities. Annotated video clips will give examples of similar initiatives from the various cultural contexts around the world. The aim is to enhance cross-cultural awareness within the communities that should encourage them to develop community-driven initiatives for the preservation of their cultural heritage.