Oral History workshop, 23-24 September 2013, Rovaniemi

Everybody with a serious interest is invited to the following event:

Workshop “Intangible oral culturalheritage: documentation, archiving and preservation techniques” Organised by the ORHELIA project team & anthropology research team Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland

Venue: Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Arktikum Building, Pohjoisranta 4, Thule meeting room, 1st floor, take the door up the stairs right after the main entrance into the building.

The blind elder Piotr Khudi with his family just before crossing Bovanenkovo gas deposit, Yamal Peninsula

The blind elder Piotr Khudi with his family just before crossing Bovanenkovo gas deposit, Yamal Peninsula

The anthropology team members interested in oral history are thrilled to get a visit by linguist Michael Riessler from Freiburg, Germany, and Anna Afanasieva from the Barents Institute in Kirkenes, Norway, to join us for a 1.5 day workshop where we explore different ways and best practices of data management, preservation and processing in oral history and sociolinguistics. We will also use this opportunity to think about ways of cooperating with Riessler’s documentation project initatives, as well as for updating each other and anybody who is interested about our recent fieldwork  all over the European and Russian Arctic. That fieldwork report session will be on Tuesday before lunch, 24 September. A detailed programme of the workshop can be found HERE.

Posted in All, Announcements, Fennoscandia, Fieldwork, Guests, Indigenous Peoples, oral history, Russian North, Sámi | Tagged , , , , ,

‘Thinking by Hands’: Designers’ Field Trip to Yamal

Hello everybody,

In this post I would like to share briefly yet another pile of work in the field of ‘Arctic-based’ design research. My personal fascination with mobility of Arctic nomads, coupled with professional interest in experimentation in the field of design education have recently resulted into the project “Visualizing Arctic Mobility”, funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation and Ella & Georg Erhnrooth Foundation. The central part of this project was a field trip to remote indigenous settlements of Yamal as a form of outdoor artistic practice for art/design students from Finland and Russia. The aim was to deliver new exercises and learning materials as well as new forms of presenting research findings, i.e. in addition to verbal the findings will be further presented through film, drawings and paintings. 

Who

Our team consisted of six people: apart from me as a team leader, there were

–        three BA students from the Department of Industrial Design, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts, Ekaterinburg, Russia: Tonya Belyaeva, Ilya Polyanskikh and Radmir Gelmutdinov;

–        A graphic and textile artist/Illustrator and doctoral student from the Department of Design, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland, Marjukka Vuorisalo; and

–        A former trainee of the University of Lapland, currently a videographer in Film Production Company Joulupukki TV Nuno Escudeiro.

Our team:  The top row: Ilya, Svetlana, Tonya and Radmir; The bottom row: Nuno and Marjukka

Our team. The top row: Ilya, Svetlana, Tonya and Radmir; the bottom row: Nuno and Marjukka

Of course, such amount of participants is rather big for an expedition with the ethnographic focus. I must admit we were not mobile and flexible at all: it was pretty difficult to engage with the community and, consequently, to immerse deeply into their daily life. On the other hand, however, it was fruitful in terms of variety of ‘thinking hands’, i.e. drawing skills and techniques as well as artistic visions.

What

All the drawing exercises are divided into three main groups:

–        ‘surface drawings’, i.e. those to present visible reality (an artist/photographer’s observation);

–        ‘analytic/surgery drawings’, i.e. those to reflect upon skills and technologies involved (design/engineering analysis); and

–        ‘unveiling drawings’, i.e. those to reveal the immaterial ‘soul’ of things (artistic imagination)

During the expedition per se, the focus was on making observational drawings: from paintings of surrounding landscapes (though of minor importance), and, of most importance, portraits of people and their belongings. It was critical to draw not ‘an average Nenets sledge’, but the narta of a particular craftsman made at a certain place with certain conditions.

In the women's world: Marjukka and Tonya are making sketches in the chum

In the women’s world: Marjukka and Tonya are making sketches inside the chum

The Narta Day: studying embodied mobility

The Narta Day: studying embodied mobility

Our personal approach (let’s call it ‘the way of visually connecting a product with its maker/owner’) brings the artistic (emotional) vision into the ‘dry’ process of data gathering. In other words, ‘living’ hand drawings will help us further to understand how indigenous craftsmen produce ‘living’ things, in their multiple essences – from physical to spiritual. 

Preliminary results: observational drawings (Photo by L. Kelchina)

Preliminary results: observational drawings (Photo by L. Kelchina)

The work is now moving to the next stage, i.e. to analytical drawings. The first public exhibition is expected to be in December, at Aalto University, Helsinki. I will keep you posted about the progress, and meanwhile, would love to hear any questions, comments and suggestions.

P.S. Many thanks to Lidia Kelchina, the Department of Indigenous Small Peoples of the North, YaNAO, and to Yury Novopoltsev, ‘Yamal Tour’, for the organizational support and invaluable help during our adventurous trip.

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Barentsburg: Place names (Svalbard fieldwork, June 2013)

Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Soviet spirit

My next stop in the Svalbard archipelago is the tiny Russian settlement of Barentsburg. How many people are living here is hard to say. The number of residents may change by the end of June and August, when an airplane from Moscow lands in Longyearbyen airport. It may bring 100 workers and take some back to Moscow. ‘I tell the tourists that there are 200 people here, my colleague may operate with different figures, tells one of the local tourists guides. Tourists have around 1,5 hours here to admire a ‘Soviet relict frozen in time’, ‘a perfectly preserved slice of a country that no longer exists’. This time is enough to have a look at the rusty Soviet heritage, buy some souvenirs and send an ‘I was there’ postcard, which will be sent with the same boat by which you arrived here.

To make the site more appealing to Western tourists the local administration decided two years ago to place an old “Our goal is communism” banner in the central square instead of the not so exotic ‘Barentsburg’ banner. It is a good accessory to the statue of Lenin, which looms over the settlement.

barentsburg-lenin-Anna

Lenin: ‘Our goal is communism’, photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

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The ’Svalbardianers’ community of Longyearbyen: coming and going …and maybe coming back (Svalbard fieldwork, June 2013)

Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Diversified community.

Everybody here is an outsider, but as my conversation partner in the most popular café tells me, ‘there are still status values: how long have you been living here? How far did you go? Maybe it is also about your polar bear story’. She knows everyone in the café (tourists excluded): ‘the group over there are mining workers, who are shift workers, but do not leave to the mainland when they are off their shift. They are commuting every day between Longyearbyen and the coal mine and have the most highly respected status. They are also the financially wealthiest ones here’. From time to time she greets people, who are passing by, mainly women: ‘The community is changing and the gender balance as well. It is not only a male dominated community anymore’. In the statistics I can see that, for example, permanent part-time positions are occupied more by women (This is Svalbard. 2012. What the figures say. Oslo: Statistics Norway, p.12). In the café and on the streets I see many young mothers with kids. There are 3 kindergardens and one school. Still, according to the Svalbard statistics (This is Svalbard 2012: 10) nearly six out of ten residents’ adults are men.

sval_longyearbyen-Anna

Longyearbyen: mining town, photo Anna Stammler-Gossmann Continue reading

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Arctic anthropology of Arctic biology (Svalbard fieldwork, June 2013)

Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Polar bear and community of Longyearbyen

Of course, the polar bear is the most prominent animal symbol of Svalbard. Once an animal is charged with this representational status, it means, as Franklin states, that every positive act towards it simultaneously endorses the nation or group that it represents (Franklin, A. 2006. Animal Nation: the True Story of Animals in Australia. Sydney: UNSW Press, p.7; more about animal symbolism see Anna Stammler-Gossmann. 2010. Political animals of Sakha Yakutia. Stammler F., Takakura H. eds., Good to eat, good to live with: Nomads and animals in Northern Eurasia and Africa. Sendai: Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku university, p. 153-178). Maybe we can apply this statement to the Longyearbyen community?

Different images of the polar bear represent the variety of forms related to this animal upon governmental regulations, tourist activities, scientific research and media. It should be protected, it should attract tourists, it is a soft toy and it is a predator. Maybe the different values attributed to this animal symbol contribute to building a symbolic ‘common place’ for this diverse and fluctuating society? Definitely, there is an interesting interplay between rational and social values attributed to this animal.

Polar bear in the church. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Polar bear in the church. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

When you land in Longyearbyen, the first thing you hear of when you read in the safety instructions and the “Svalbard Rules of Common Sense” or start talking with the tourists or locals is the polar bear. Polar bears have become the charismatic symbol for all climate change related issues: melting sea ice, environmental awareness, global warming and the most vulnerable species.

‘Environmental’ T-Shirt: The North Pole today and in 50 years. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

‘Environmental’ T-Shirt: The North Pole today and in 50 years. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

They are carefully protected by law, there are no polar bear safaris on Svalbard. Global hunt for polar bear guard attracts 300 applicants (Icepeople 5/25, July 9, 2013). Local officials are concerned about the increasing number of film crews, both Norwegian and from abroad, that are perhaps too keen to film the protected polar bears in action. A film team working for the BBC on Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is being fined NOK 50,000 (nearly USD 10,000) for allegedly disturbing a polar bear mother and her two cubs. (http://www.newsinenglish.no/2013/03/19/film-team-fined-on-svalbard/).

 

However, it is the world’s largest land carnivores and humans are considered as an alien element in the polar bear’s habitat (Norwegian Polar Institute http://www.svalbard.net/en/Svalbard/?News=4). Usually one bear is shot every year due to the endangerment of people’s life. This year, it was already two bears (personal conversation). One of the ‘Longyearbyen bears’ is displayed in the hospital entry hall. It is related to a dramatic story from 1987.

Polar bear of the Longyearbyen hospital. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Polar bear of the Longyearbyen hospital. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Drama of 1987 on Edgeøya. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Drama of 1987 on Edgeøya. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

That year two Dutch biologists at the Kapp Lee station on Edgeøya, Piet Oosterveid and Georg Visser, were badly injured by this young polar bear. As Hacquebord pointed it out, indirectly, this event led to the end of a Dutch research station in the High Arctic.  In 1989 it was sold for a symbolic sum to the Norwegian Polar Institute. On the instruction of Piet Oosterveld, the executive committee terminated the Foundation for Arctic Biological Research that supported his research activities, thus putting an end to one of the most important Dutch research initiatives in the Arctic since the Second World War.  (Hacquebord, L. 2004. Permanence in diversity. A life in the service of Arctic Biological Research. Boschman, N., Hacquebord, L. (eds). 2004. Permanence in diversity. Netherlands Ecological Research on Edgeøya, Spitsbergen. Groningen: Arctic Centre, RUG. p.10).

The residents of Longyearbyen to whom I talked, definitely did not like to talk about current accidents with polar bears, which happened in the last years (see http://www.sysselmannen.no/en/News/No-criminal-charges-after-the-polar-bear-accident-at-Von-Postbreen/).  I suppose, it is not a pleasant topic to discuss with visitors. It may harm the charismatic image of the polar bear and may have an impact on tourist activities, governmental safety efforts, scientific research, and finally on this small Arctic community. Living in this environment, where the risk of this wild animal is very high and at the same time, where the polar bear symbol is so important, animal symbolism reveals a potential to constitute community commonalities.

Svalbard reindeer

When I showed a picture of a Svalbard reindeer to my Sami reindeer herder friend, his first reaction was: ‘that’s not a reindeer’. A sharp difference to the Eurasian mainland reindeer shows in short-legs, relatively round heads and a thick coat. This reindeer population represents the morphology typical on artcic islands and the Greenland origin of the Svalbard reindeer seems probable (Hakala, A. et al. 1986. Taxonomy and history of Arctic island reindeer with special reference to Svalbard reindeer. Rangifer, Special issues 1: 360).

Svalbard reindeer, photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Svalbard reindeer, photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Their behavior is also different from reindeer that I have observed in Finland and Russia. Svalbard reindeer are not nomadic and live individually or in small groups (see Reimers, E. 2012. Svalbard reindeer population size and trends in four sub-areas of Edgeøya. Polar Research 31). They are less dependent on the lichens then relatives on the mainland and feed on almost any type of vegetation. All the plants in question are more resistant to grazing and trampling. And that is why the pastures’ carrying capacity becomes ‘a floating concept’ in Svalbard, as Reimers states (Reimers 2012).

I haven’t seen any polar bears roaming around, but I have met a reindeer almost every day. They do not have any natural enemies, except for some cases where polar bears or Arctic foxes occasionally prey on weak or newborn animals. There are no mosquito clouds around the reindeer like I observed in the Nenets tundra and the Verkhoiansk mountains (Barents region and Siberia, Russia) – they harass and can even kill a reindeer. Svalbard reindeer are not afraid of people and you may see them peacefully grazing around the houses. Restricted hunting is allowed in some areas of Nordensköld Land (The governor of Svalbard. http://www.sysselmannen.no/en/Toppmeny/About-Svalbard/Animals/). Reindeer population appears to be at a record high this year. There have not been so many reindeer since records began in 1979 (Icepeople 5/25, July 9, 2013)

 

Svalbard reindeer, photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Svalbard reindeer, photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

‘Exotic’ species.

There are not so many pets in this permanently fluctuating community on Svalbard. I have not seen anybody working with a dog. To bring a dog to Svalbard requires permission from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. The permit is granted for one year at a time. No permissions to bring cat to Svalbard are given (the governor of Svalbard http://www.sysselmannen.no/en/Shortcuts/Pets/). However, these two cats I saw in the Russian settlement of Svalbard, Barentsburg. Maybe it is a post-Soviet cats’ generation? Anyway, they are great companions, who comfort the – mainly single – males, who are working hard, away from their home.

Cats of Barentsburg. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Cats of Barentsburg. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

 

In Barentsburg I discovered another ‘post-Soviet’ animal – a pig. There is a small pig shed still left over from Soviet times, whereas only abandoned houses with a cow’s picture on the wall remain of the former cow farm. Pork is almost the only fresh product in the local canteen menu. The community receives basic food supplies one or two times a year by boat from Murmansk.

‘Pig house’ in Barentsburg. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

‘Pig house’ in Barentsburg. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Pig of Barentsburg. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Pig of Barentsburg. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

 

Pig of Barentsburg. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Pig of Barentsburg. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

A really exotic animal for this latitude is a penguin in the shopping centre that holds the sign of the sushi restaurant. Why penguin? I became curious as far as I always thought that there are no penguins in the Arctic. Or are there? I just asked the people in the sushi restaurant and found out that ‘they were here’.

‘Arctic’ penguin. Sushi canteen in Longyearbyen. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

‘Arctic’ penguin. Sushi canteen in Longyearbyen. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

 

Snow crab

In September 2011 the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen (Norway) published information that one alien species, the snow crab, was caught in the eastern part of Svalbard waters (Institute of Marine Research. Fant snøkrabbe ved Svalbard, September 6, 2011,  http://www.imr.no/nyhetsarkiv/2011/september/fant_snokrabbe_ved_svalbard/nb-no). Recent findings of Russian scientists in relation to the biomass of snow crab in the Barents Sea were unexpected: it is ten times higher than another alien species, the King Crab (Institute of marine research, Ti ganger mer snøkrabbe enn kongekrabbe,  April 24, 2013, http://www.imr.no/nyhetsarkiv/2013/april/ti_ganger_mer_snokrabbe_enn_kongekrabbe/nb-no). The King Crab was intentionally introduced to the Barents Sea in the 1960s by Soviet scientists. There are different views on the scale of changes caused by these species in the Barents Sea ecosystem (see Herbold, B. and Moyle, P.B. 1986. Introduced species and vacant niches. Am. Nat. 128:751-760; Owen, J. 2004. Giant Crab ‘red army’ invades Norway, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/03/0309_040309_giantcrabs.html;  Norwegian Ministry of the Environment. 2007. Strategy on invasive alien species; Fishnet.ru. 2008 Камчатский краб не наносит серьезного ущерба донной фауне Баренцева моря, http://www.fishnet.ru/news/novosti_otrasli/8363.html ).

However, it has brought new economic activities for the coastal communities of Eastern Norway, as I observed during my fieldwork in 2012 (Blog entries June 2012 Kings, predators and research on the northern top of Europe. https://arcticanthropology.org/2012/06/14/kings-predators-and-research-on-the-northern-top-of-europe/; Havet (ocean) – is giving and taking. https://arcticanthropology.org/2012/06/19/access-project-arctic-climate-change-economy-and-society/; see  Karlsbakk, J.2013. Cold king Crab catch. http://barentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2013/01/cold-king-crab-catch-04-01) .

It is not clear yet how the snow crab has spread to the area – by ballast water or by natural migration (Institute for Marine Research, Ibid). Are the ‘newcomers’ burden or asset of the Barents Sea and for the coastal communities? Is it a serious threat to biodiversity or a valuable resource?

The Svalbard governor’s office is concerned about the growth of the snow crab population and has decided to delay the official release of its invasive species action plan in order to incorporate this new information (Barents Observer, June 24, 2013; http://barentsobserver.com/en/nature/2013/06/storm-snow-crabs-24-06; Icepeople 5/25, June 25).

(ACCESS project, Arctic Climate Change Economies and Societies, ‘European Project supported within the Ocean of Tomorrow call of the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme’ and Research Grant by Norwegian Embassy in Helsinki)

 

Posted in All, Fennoscandia, Fieldwork

Everything is northernmost here (Svalbard fieldwork, June 2013)

Anna Stammler-Gossmann

The Arctic as a place to live

Svalbard is a place where everything is the northernmost – municipality, hotels, hospital, schools, kinder gardens, church and pubs. In Longyearbyen (the administrative center of Svalbard) there even is the northernmost sushi restaurant and kebab stand, which opened up here recently.

The northernmost downtown, Longyearbyen, photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

The northernmost downtown, Longyearbyen, photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

On the wall of a local museum you can read that Svalbard today still looks like a landscape from the end of the Ice Age. It is naked, with less than ten percent vegetation and more than half of the land mass covered by glaciers. As Christiane Ritter, an Australian painter (1897–2000), described this landscape: ‘Stone after stone, I am now seeing stones in my sleep and when I am awake. They are going to get on my nerves; I can feel it. This stony land, the total gigantic barrenness, is going to haunt me as a bad dream’. (Christiane Ritter 1935, Longyearbyen museum, June 2013; read more: Christiane Ritter. A woman in the Polar Night, 2010).

Famous Polar Bear sign, Longyearbyen, June 2013. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Famous Polar Bear sign, Longyearbyen, June 2013. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

The street where I live in Longyearbyen is called Street 232 (vei 232). ‘The streets in Longyearbyen have no names, they have numbers’ – grown men do not build houses in streets that are named Blueberry Road or Teddy Bear Yard’, say the notes from the Longyearbyen museum. It is indeed a hard working community. To live here you have to have a job or be a part of a household in which one or more people are in employment. According to the Statistics Norway, the local working week is longer than on the mainland – on average, men work 40-hours week, women 35 hours – in comparison to the mainland, where people have 37 and 31 hour weeks respectively (This is Svalbard. 2012. Oslo: Statistics Norway, p.13)
Above all there is the complete darkness of the long winter. There are cases of depression and suicides (personal conversation). Alcohol consumption here is higher than in mainland Norway (This is Svalbard. 2012: p.14). Longyearbyen is not supposed to be a ‘cradle-to-grave’ community. The children should be born on mainland. Svalbard is known, as an editor of ‘the world’s northernmost alternative newspaper’ put it, as a place where ‘dying is forbidden’ (Sabbatini, M. 2009. My first winter near the North Pole. Observer, November 1), there is no cemetery here. The local municipality does not offer services and welfare system on the same level as on the mainland. A small hospital (six beds) is the only accident and emergency unit. The local rescue centre undertakes 50-80 rescue missions on Svalbard each year (This is Svalbard. 2012: 21).
In spite of the harsh living conditions the number of residents on Svalbard is growing constantly since the beginning of 1990s according to the statistics (This is Svalbard 2012: 10). What is the attractive power that brings people to live here if we leave aside material incentives, like an almost tax-free regime, high income, and lower price levels than on the Norwegian mainland?

Power of the North
Maybe it is the excitement of almost being on the top of the earth? Or it is a reflection of the longing for the North to escape from an over-civilized world? Or it is a feeling of going back to basics? Or it is an attraction of being in a very international community? Maybe we need the force of all-too-powerful-nature to live more intensively and to understand the treasure of simple, ‘normal’ patterns of life? For Christiane Ritter it must be that: ‘For the first time in my life I experience the joy of struggling with something stronger than myself. ….I go on working day after day…, with a strength that I did not think I possessed…(Ritter 2010: 95). ‘You must have gazed on the deadness of all things to grasp their livingness’ (Ritter 2010: 6)
However, as one local told me, it is not a good thing to escape to Svalbard because of the problems you have on the mainland. Each of us has had our own reason for wanting to go to the North. Here are two personal stories from my field notes that can perhaps give some clues, why people come to Svalbard and decide to stay here.
From Caucasus to Svalbard.
‘I came from the South (Caucasus) three years ago, because I had to help my family when my father went bankrupt. I was the only one, who was good in foreign languages and could work abroad. I went to Svalbard, although it is a bad place to live. The winter is so dark and in the summer the sun is shining 24 hours. Here in Longyearbyen I am probably the only practicing Muslim. Soon it is Ramadan and I have to think how to follow the prayer and fasting schedule under the Arctic conditions when the sun does not go down. Last year I was not taking food for 18 hours a day. I am a young strong man, 28 years old, but my job is hard, I have to carry very heavy stuff the whole day. It is not easy for me to fast and eat only fish.
This is a peaceful place to live. Here, people do not properly lock their house doors, cars or snowmobiles. There is no crime or violence here. Where should the criminals escape to or hide? This is a clean place to live. Only tourists throw their rubbish on the streets. I carry my rubbish in my pocket or bag when I am downtown. Everybody who lives here takes care of the environment.
At the time when I left my home it was easy to come to Svalbard, I did not need a visa or working permission. A few times a year there are direct flights to Longyearbyen from Moscow. I do not know, how long I will stay here’.

From the hospital-nurse to the taxi driver.
‘I lived nearby Tromso and worked for twenty years as a nurse in the hospital. I am 60 years old and arrived to Longyearbyen just some months ago. I came here because I was tired of my job, I wanted to experience something completely different, and start my life from scratch. I am single, and maybe one day I meet a nice lady here, who knows?
I like this place, only my flat is quite small, (40 m2) in comparison to my house that I sold (300m2). However, it does not matter. I can earn money here and buy later something bigger and nicer when I am a pensioner.
Many people here already know me as a taxi driver and I know everybody. In the hotel bar I get a coffee for free and food for half the price. Of course, a receptionist can call me any time during the day or night for the tourists. We all are related to each other.
Let’s see, how it will turn out here. First, I will work here at least for one year or maybe more’.

Back to basics

Many people see this place as an opportunity to strip life back to basics. All people on the street, tourists, workers, residents look very similar – all are in their outdoor clothes. A lady in the airplane mistook my jacket with hers after landing – all passengers had the same look. There are no fashion shops in Longyearbyen – sportswear’s only.
My conversation partner, who spent eight years in Longyearbyen likes it: ‘Nobody here takes care how cool you are dressed today and what kind apartment you have. I just came from Oslo, the people there are concerned how they and their houses look like. Here all flats are quite the same, furnished with basics, everybody is temporarily here and nobody is interested what kind of sofa you have. Maybe it is one of these things which make this place particularly attractive’.

Longyearbyen in June 2013. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Longyearbyen in June 2013. Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

(ACCESS project, Arctic Climate Change Economies and Societies, ‘European Project supported within the Ocean of Tomorrow call of the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme’ and Research Grant by Norwegian Embassy in Helsinki).

Posted in All, Fennoscandia, Fieldwork, oral history

Fishing fieldwork, ORHELIA Arctic Yakutia

My last summer entry from this Yakutia fieldwork finally brings me to the fieldwork PRACTICE there with the inhabitants of the Lena Delta and coastal area in Yakutia. As some of you may know, one of our crucial methodological approaches in the ORHELIA project is to marry intensive life-history interviewing with anthropological participant observation, which we believe enables us to understand better people’s life histories and ask more qualified follow-up questions.

Fishing is on industrial scale,but still a deeply culturally rooted practice  & important identity marker

Fishing is on industrial scale,but still a deeply culturally rooted practice & important identity marker

Our programme for the field was to spend half of the time in the village talking to elders about their recollections of the past and their evaluation of the present. The other half we wanted to go out to the summer fishing place and participate in the summer fishing campaign. Continue reading

Posted in All, Fieldwork, Indigenous Peoples, oral history, Russian North, Theoretical Issues | Tagged , , | 1 Comment