Uarctic in pure diamonds: report from PhD / Masters course “Arctic Extractive Industries”, in Mirny

IMG_6144
The Uarctic Logo made by a local employee of the sorting centre of pure diamonds is worth 7 million USD

From 15-22 February a group of roughly 20 people spent a week in the centre for Russian Diamond extraction, the city of Mirny. Students from circumpolar countries – and not only – had different topics in their social sciences research project, but all of them united around the overarching topic of the Social Sciences related to the development of extractive industries in the Arctic. This time we had way more applicants than we could fund or even admit to the course. We ended up with an excellent group from Alaska, IMG_6045northern Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Austria. The course followed the good experience of a previous course, when half of the programme was in-class teaching, while the other half was in the form of field excursions. The two principle highlights of these excursions were the “pipe of peace”,  one of the world’s biggest man-made holes, where diamonds were extracted until 2001. That hole can also be considered the cradle of Russian Arctic Diamond extraction, and was the reason for the establishment of the single-industry town of Mirny.  (Read on for a course report) Continue reading “Uarctic in pure diamonds: report from PhD / Masters course “Arctic Extractive Industries”, in Mirny”

PhD / MA course extractive industires at the world’s biggest hole

The Uarctic Arctic Extractive Industries PhD programme organises its Trubkamira_askYakutiaspring 2016 course, this time also open for M.A. students, eligibility for participation see below.

The course is hosted by the North Eastern Federal University, Yakutia, Russia, February 16-22, 2016. Yakutia in Siberia is not a cheap, but fascinating place to go. Interested students can apply for funding. Please express your interest to one of the Thematic Network leaders if you want to participate. Continue reading “PhD / MA course extractive industires at the world’s biggest hole”

Uarctic Extractive Industries PhD programme course, Fairbanks, 24-30 September 2015

The next course in our PhD programme with a focus on the social sciences of Arctic

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), (Florian Stammler)
The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), (Florian Stammler)

extractive industrial development will take place in conjunction with the Arctic Energy Summit in Alaska, Fairbanks. There seem to be some last slots for PhD students available. Students of the University of Lapland can get the course recognised for credits towards their own programme requirements (after discussing this with their supervisor). Please see more details at the Uarctic Ext Ind Fairbanks programme webpage. If you consider participating, please contact Terrence Cole and / or Florian Stammler (emails from the programme page). Please study carefully the course requirements for participation. If you are very lucky and fit all the boxes by our funders, you MAY be eligible for a travel grant that would pay tickets to Alaska, accomodation and registration fee for the Arctic Energy Summit. Tuition for this course is free.

New M.A. programme Arctic anthropology! / Магистерская программа Арктическая антропология

Svetlana Zhavoronok. Important resources for Arctic people

The European University in St Petersburg launches a new masters programme on northern Anthropology! The Programme is coordinated by Nikolay Vakhtin, with courses read by Elena Lyarskaya, Veronika Simonova, Alla Bolotova and Stephan Dudeck, all of whom are fluent in English and Russian.

Courses taught include general anthropological courses on theory, methods and ideas in contemporary northern anthropology, as well as special fields such as “oil, gas, and people” in Siberia, or “the contemporary Arctic city”, or “the state and the indigenous people”.

The next deadline for applications is August 1, 2015. More information can be found on the site of the EU SPb Arctic Research Centre.

Read on here for information in Russian

Continue reading “New M.A. programme Arctic anthropology! / Магистерская программа Арктическая антропология”

Oral history: bringing our results back to the people

Honouring our partners in the field: Arctic elders and their representatives
Most of the Rovaniemi anthropology research team went this last week to Naryan Mar, the capital of the European Russian Nenets Autnomous Okrug, for celebrating the 25th anniversary of our field partners there, Nenets peoples association Yasavey. Congratulations!

The posh "Arktika" culture and business centre in Naryan Mar was chosen to be an appropriate venue for our presentation
The posh “Arktika” culture and business centre in Naryan Mar was chosen to be an appropriate venue for our presentation

We are honoured and proud that they granted us as only foreign partner a whole hour in their anniversary programme, and thankful to the Naryan-Mar Social and Humanitarian college for hosting us.
Over the last four years, the Nenets Okrug was one of the key regions for our ORHELIA oral history project, and nowhere our Finnish Academy project (decision 251111) got more material on Arctic indigenous people’s oral history than here in the Nenets Okrug. That is thanks to Stephan Dudeck and his partners in the field. Continue reading “Oral history: bringing our results back to the people”

Black Gold or black dirt in East Siberia? Arctic Extractive Industries PhD programme holds course in Neryungyi, Republic of Sakha Yakutia

It was a fascinating week that the Extractive Industries Group spent in Neryungryi, Yakutia, one of the Soviet Union’s youngest single industry towns, established in 1975.

The Uarctic Thematic Network “Arctic Extractive Industries” thank the North Eastern Federal University, Faculty of Law and department for Northern Studies, for organising of a great course in our pan Arctic Phd programme, which was held from November 9-15 in Neryungri, on the basis of a technical institute NEFU.
We were 6 professors/teachers and 9 PhD students in the team, joint in the course lectures by students from the Neryungryi technical institute, a branch of Russia’s North Eastern Federal University (Yakutsk).

The course participants in Neryungryi technical institute of North Eastern Federal University, Russia
The course participants in Neryungryi technical institute of North Eastern Federal University, Russia

Within the first 15 years of its existence, the population of the town skyrocketed already up to 100 000 inhabitants, but once the construction of the town and the coal mines (in the Soviet Union all open pit) was finished, the Soviet Union was in the middle of perestroika, and as much as half of the population left again. We just experienced the celebrations for the 39th birthday of the city. How many of us come from such a young place? Now Neryungryi is a compact town of 50 000 people,

Neryungryi today
Neryungryi today

with mainly two companies working there in coal mining: Yakutugol, owned by its parent company Mechel Mining, running the main open pit in town, and recently started a giant new coal development in the taiga, the Elginski deposit, which will be producing with a few thousand fly-in fly-out workers four times more coal than all of Neryungryi did in the Soviet Union – with a town of a 100 000 people! The second company here is Kolmar, which belongs to a wealthy Russian enterpreneur called Gennadi Timchenko. At their Denisovski deposit, they produce coal from underground mining, at a price per tonne of 1800 roubles. Recently the coal price collapsed to 1400 roubles, making this development unprofitable. Nonetheless, Timchenko has enough financial cushion to just stop producing coal, and instead investing a lot of money into building new mines and processing plans, just for the future! The company has high hopes, especially for Chinese and Japanese prices to go up, and invested into hiring more permanent staff, currently a bit more than 900.

The open pit mine because of which Neryungryi was established
The open pit mine because of which Neryungryi was established

Interestingly, they decided not to organise fly-in / fly-out work force. All their employees live locally in Neryungryi, as the fly-in / fly-out model was not considered reliable for this kind of production. Instead, they hired recently 260 refugee coal miners from the Ukrainian Donbass mining area. Here they also feel the political changes in Russia’s relations with the West, as the company has to change from importing western mining technology to chinese technology. According to the main engineer at Kolmar, Chinese equipment satisfies their needs too.
This kind of information we got as a group on our excursion to the industry sites. The visitor to South East Siberia gets a different view of regional development at the small village of Iengra, where Evenki herders herd some thousand reindeer in 10 herds of the local collective enterprise (still called sovkhoz by herders), and a number of private herding groups (obshiny).

Evenki reindeer herders from Iengra drove 3 hours from the forest to see us as a group and talk about land use
Evenki reindeer herders from Iengra drove 3 hours from the forest to see us as a group and talk about land use

Interestingly, their nomadic life was not as much subject to Soviet modernisation policies as in other areas, even in North Yakutia. The Iengra Evenki seem to have continued nomadic migrations with families all the way through the Soviet Union, while their children still go to the boarding school – a system that was discontinued in other areas, such as in Chukotka or parts of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug.
Interestingly, the biggest problems that the Evenki have with industry is not with coal mining, but with gold mining. The latter is organised very differently from the coal mining – namely in smaller companies with less significant gold extraction licences. They get their claims allocated mostly from the district municipality, whereas the reindeer herders are registered with the village council. This means for them that on paper they do not even compete for land with the gold mining (artel, priiski). This industry – as Alexandra, a chairperson from the Iengra culture house says – does not really care what is going on around them. In other words, corporate social responsibility is not even properly known as a concept. On the other hand, both of these livelihoods – herding and mining – are so far spatially not too much overlapping, as the land around Neryungryi is rather sparsely populated.
A bit further away from Neryungryi, an hour’s drive, there is a hot spring, which was a popular excursion trip among our PhD course group too. At a mild minus 35 degrees centigrade we all enjoyed a warm bath, with our hair getting frozen immediately.

Minus 35 outside, and plus 35 in the water was a real treat for all the participants
Minus 35 outside, and plus 35 in the water was a real treat for all the participants

The programme organisers Aitalina Ivanova and Mikhail Prisyazhyi from Yakutsk (North Eastern Federal NEFU) University did a great job in dividing our days between sessions and excursions, so that the participants really felt how it made sense to have an extractive industries PhD school at a site where the industry is actually active in extractive practices. A warm thank you to both of them, and the whole team organising what was a remarkable course event within our phd programme on extractive industries.
More on the programme can be seen at our separate website,  in Russian at the news service of NEFU,

http://s-vfu.ru/news/detail.php?SECTION_ID=17&ELEMENT_ID=30162
http://s-vfu.ru/news/detail.php?SECTION_ID=23&ELEMENT_ID=30151
http://s-vfu.ru/news/detail.php?SECTION_ID=23&ELEMENT_ID=30243
http://s-vfu.ru/news/detail.php?SECTION_ID=17&ELEMENT_ID=30253
http://s-vfu.ru/news/detail.php?SECTION_ID=2268&ELEMENT_ID=30221
http://s-vfu.ru/news/detail.php?SECTION_ID=2268&ELEMENT_ID=29890

and of course – as always – Arthur Mason’s visual ethnographic diary of the whole event.

“Nomadic” Ph.D. Summer School “Field Experiences in Northwest Russia” (FENOR): Call for Applications

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

FENOR map
Route of the Nomadic School

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.

Extractive industries: Toxic Legacies and Northern Exposures Projects

Happy new year to all arcticanthropology readers!!! We hope that 2014 brings us again interesting posts and discussions on this blog, and a growing inspiring academic exchange on topics of relevance for people and societies in the Arctic.

Our first entry this year is an announcement from colleagues from the Extractive Industries Working Group (IASSA EIWG), from Canada, with funding opportunities for research. Arn Keeling from Newfoundland writes

“Please find below a notice of funded graduate student opportunities to work on extractives-related questions at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL. Canadian and international applicants are welcome. Happy holidays!

————- Continue reading “Extractive industries: Toxic Legacies and Northern Exposures Projects”