EU ACCESS project – Arctic Climate Change Economy and Society
November 11, 2014, Borealis, 10am. Organized by Arctic Centre, Dr. Anna Stammler-Gossmann
The sustainability framework has become a powerful concept in shaping national and international objectives. Nevertheless, the concept may face considerable challenges in putting together pieces of the sustainability puzzle. There are still several uncertainties over its underlying meaning as well as effectiveness in addressing emerging social and environmental problems.
What sustainable development actually means is one of the important issues for the Northern coastal economies and international political agenda of the last decade. During the workshop practitioners and researchers will discuss the sustainability concept as applied on the regional level in the fisheries and marine mammal hunting in Russian, Icelandic, Norwegian and Canadian context.
Everybody is warmly welcome
10:00 Anna Stammler-Gossmann, (Arctic Centre). Welcome and opening remark.
10:10 – 10:45 Dmitrii Klochkov (Marine Informatics, Murmansk). Sustainability and climate change issues in the Russian commercial fishery sector
10:45 – 11: 20 Halldór Þorsteinsson (Seafood Quality, Iceland). Sustainability in Icelandic: Mackerel war
11:20 – 11:55 Nikolas Sellheim (University of Lapland). Sustainability in a Canadian commercial seal hunting community
“Permafrost Dynamics and Indigenous Land Use” was the title of a two-day workshop at the Arctic Science Summit Week in Helsinki – which is still ongoing at the time of writing this post (5-11 April 2014). Organised by Joachim Otto Habeck and Hiroki Takakura, the workshop brought together scholars from different disciplines (from geosciences to cultural anthropology) to discuss changes in the unique landscape and land use in the Central Yakutian Lowlands. Discussions were truly interdisciplinary, and fascinating from my point of view, tackling complexities in understanding the dimension of this specific landscape that is subject to many influences. Conversations focused on the interaction between natural processes in the formation of a thermokarst landscape, global climatic changes and local changes in cattle farming. Traditional forms of cattle farming have undergone transformations during the Soviet era, inducing lasting changes on the social organisation of for instance hay making in the grasslands of the alaas landscape. In addition, modern lifestyles and state subsidies are playing an important role in the local economy today, raising the question in which direction future land use will develop.
Further meetings are planned to foster cooperation on the theme. In case of interest, please get in touch with the conveners of the workshop (Joachim Otto Habeck, Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, and soon University of Hamburg, Germany; Hiroki Takakura, Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohuku University, Sendai, Japan).
Another workshop, organised by the Nordic branch of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists aimed at “Connecting Early Career Researchers and Community Driven Research in the North”. In her keynote, Gail Fondahl (University of BC) emphasised the possibility of involving members of indigenous communities in the co-management of projects. “Such an approach acknowledges that local communities can best identify their problems and prioritize their needs, that local knowledge and local resources can inform solutions to these problems, and that collaborative research can contribute to developing community capacity and thus help to empower communities.” (Fondahl et al. 2009, Co-Managing Research: Building and Sustaining a First Nation – University Partnership, UNBC). Arja Rautio (University of Oulu) explained how important this kind of collaboration is in health research where studies as well as new policies and schemes can only be devised successfully if they are relevant to the target community. Heidi Eriksen (Utsjoki Health Centre) raised attention to the fact that scientific (and in her example: medical) studies on indigenous peoples have been highly exploitative in the past, with little benefits for the researched communities themselves. Past injustices have to be acknowledged in current research and health care services.
Anna Afanasyeva (International Barents Secretariat), gave insights into her research on the relocation of Sámi of the Kola peninsula between 1930 and 1970, as well as her work in the project DOBES that aims at recording Sámi languages, especially of those which have only few native speakers left. Regarding the theme of the workshop, Anna told how she as an indigenous Sámi from a relocated family has been trying to methodically distance herself from her community to gain a “view from outside”, while researchers from outside the community have been trying to achieve “the view from within” – and how she has been discussing these experiences with fellow researchers.
Fishing is the livelihood of many Arctic coastal communities in Northern Norway and Northern Russia. The workshop aims to bring together different groups of stakeholders who share common interests in the resources of the Arctic Ocean. The stakeholders from Northern Norway and Northern Russia will discuss the ongoing changes in the marine environment of the Arctic Ocean and their relevance for the intricate relations between people, sea water and fish. Case studies from the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea and White Sea will be represented.
Arctic Centre, University of Lapland with the EU ACCESS project – Arctic Climate Change Economy and Society will organize Arctic Ocean and coastal communities Changes, challenges and livelihoods Stakeholders’ workshop on February 20-21, 2014, Thule Room at the Arctic Centre. More information from Anna Stammler-Gossmann.
About the intrigues around this year’s celebration and why they reminded me of one of the darkest chapters of Sámi history.
For this year’s Sámi National Day I happened to be in Murmansk and I witnessed the celebrations, which were preceded by some red hot intrigues.
The day traditionally starts with the raising of the Sámi flag. In Murmansk this year this happened at three different places. First at the Norwegian Consulate, then at the Centre for Indigenous Peoples, and finally near the Seamen’s house. Though the official flying of the flag was, for this purpose, sanctioned by the Russian authorities even in two places, both locations were in side streets with almost no people around. How come? Well, the vacant flag pole near the Russian flag pole at the so-called White House, the Murmansk Region’s Government building (which in fact is yellow) and the most representative place downtown, had to be urgently removed shortly before the celebrations. Why? Because it happened to be unstable and thus represented a threat to the security of passers-by. So the administration kindly offered to the Sámi community the two alternative settings, both located in far less busy places where public attention (and therefore the risk of injury by falling flag poles, too) would be minimal.
Among the organisers of the Sámi Day celebrations nobody believes the story of the unstable flag pole, although they acclaim the officials for their creativity. And many argue: Isn’t it rather another “threat” which seems to motivate the Region’s administration? A nation of 1599 people (according to the 2010 census) raising their flag near a symbol of Russian state power seems to be something very frightening to some. The question of where to raise the flag had been in fact an issue in the regional parliament even before they noticed the shaky flag pole. In a discussion one member of the dominating Edinaia Rossiia party said that one should not allow such things because once one minority has been granted the right to make the colours, all the other minorities might follow and claim their right to raise their flags too. This seems to be an inacceptable scenario to the ruling power of the multi-ethnic state of Russia.
It is definitely realistic that fears of separatism, although not (yet) explicitly uttered, can be exploited in the politics of local government members. The case of alleged Pomor separatism isn’t closed yet, and to incriminate the Russian Sámi for having strong ties to their co-brothers and allies abroad might be even easier than in the case of the Pomors. Moreover, the eager search for hints of separatism, even the most inconspicuous ones, has a long-lasting tradition. If we go further back in history, the situation with the flag pole reminds me of the ridiculously irrational “Sámi complot” during the Stalin Era. In 1938 the NKVD fabricated the so-called Sámi nationalist counterrevolutionary conspiracy. In the setting of the orchestrated class struggle, which had to take place even in the remotest corners of the country, a group of people had been “uncovered” while allegedly preparing an uprising in order to create a “Lappish Republic” which should become a part of Finland. Its leader became Vasilii Kondrat’evich Alymov, who was not a Sámi. He was a scholar from Leningrad who, in earlier years, had been living among the Sámi and in Murmansk collecting materials for a Sámi dictionary. Being an intellectual with strong ties to the local indigenous population and yet an outsider, and having served for the Mensheviks, he proved to be the ideal figure of an inciter. The whole inquiries of case No. 46197 lasted for a very short period: from 27 February till 7 April 1938. As a result, 34 people, mostly Sámi, were arrested. Among these, 15 were shot and 13 sentenced to long labour camp terms. All of the convicts had compromised themselves by totally picayune deeds or life events which dated far back, like serving in the tsarist army. A detailed account of these events has been written by Aleksei Kiselev, one of the most famous local historians.
Allowing to raise the Sámi flag near a main symbol of state power (as it happened on the territory of the Norwegian consulate) would have been a nice sign of respect and reconciliation towards the local indigenous population, which had to suffer a great loss of ethnic identity as well as life and material losses during Soviet times. The chance has been missed.
The “retaliation measures” by the Sámi activists have been astonishingly peaceful and colourful: The flashmob, which had been organised using the social media, had the aim to create a “living” Sámi flag. They preferred not to act illegally and stay at the officially sanctioned place near the Seamen’s house, and therefore the location and the attention by passers-by were not really great. The circle in the flag, unfortunately, didn’t work out too, but the idea was positive and beautiful. It was in the (at least Eastern) Sámi-like spirit of a soft and peaceful resistance.
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
Some Testimonies About Forced Anti-Alcoholism Measures Among Saami People in the Soviet Union
In one of my first encounters with an elder Saami on the Kola Peninsula (Russia) about five years ago I was told about an institution with the weird name Prophylactic Medical Labour Camp (russ. lechebno-trudovoi profilaktorii, or just LTP). What I was told about it was short but impressive, and can be summarised as follows: Heavy drinkers could be sent to an LTP for up to one and a half years where they would undergo a compulsory therapy which consisted of mysterious tablets and heavy physical work. In fact, this was an imprisonment without a criminal lawsuit. In terms of law, it was a purely administrative measure. The system of the LTPs was created in the end of the 1960s, and very soon all of the Soviet Union was covered with a network of such institutions. In Russia it was abolished in 1994 due to unconstitutionality, and nowadays the only post-soviet countries which have kept the system of the LTPs are – how symptomatic! – Belarus and Turkmenistan.