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.
Talking to a friend in Se Yakha, at the shore of the Ob Bay close to the Kara Sea, I realised how far the consequences of the recent Norilsk oil spill could go: the recent New York Times article about the oil spill cite environmentalists and even a Russian minister saying that the consequences of the spill could last for a decade. This is echoed by our friends from the Yamal Peninsula, who might be again among the most vulnerable victims.
The concern is that the spilled oil will eventually end up in the Kara Sea. And if that happens, it will contaminate the water along of the migration route of fish, on which the indigenous population along the shores rely for their subsistence and livelihood.
After recently having celebrated the world’s first Nenets PhD defense, now we can witness another one, in three days time, 14 May 11.15 Norwegian time! Zoya Vylka Ravna shall defend her thesis with the very technical name “The Inter-Generational Transmission of Indigenous Knowledge By Nenets Women: Viewed in the context of the state educational system of Russia.” Surely this is going to be an interesting look by a European Nenets woman who studied trajectories of child upbringing in both the European and the Yamal part of the Nenets tundras. At the end of her popular summary to her thesis, she is very critical about the contemporary boarding school system, arguing that it “undermines the ability of nomadic Nenets communities to maintain their traditional and unique Arctic nomadic culture”.
Yamal has a legally protected sacred sites inventory: here, Angalskiy Mys
Today in the morning I was just about to brew my breakfast coffee, when my friend Mikhail Okotetto called and told me “we need to go and feed the sacred site here, come along, right now”. I had 5 minutes to grab my stuff and jump to a taxi, and drove out to the land close to Angal’skiy Mys between Salekhard and Labytnangi, where Mikhail and Vasiliy were waiting for me. They were in touch with one of the very few shamans on the Yamal Peninsula, Alexey Okotetto from Synei Sale, who had advised them that it is time to feed the land and pay respect to the spirits, now that we need their protection from diseases more than ever.
Roza Laptander’s public dissertation defense took place online on the 29th of April 2020 at 10 a.m. Finnish time.
“In Christianity, at the beginning was the word – in Nenets, at the beginning was silence” (Andrey Golovnev during Roza’s defense).
How beautifully put by Andrey Golovnev! The director of the Kunstkamera acted as opponent in this first ever western PhD defense by a Nenets scholar. We are proud that our team and the University of Lapland were the host of this long and successful dissertation process. Roza delivered an excellent speech, and the discussion with the opponent was on highest scholarly expert level about the meaning of silence in Nenets cultures and beyond. In his questions Golovnev went into great detail, using his own decades-long expertise in Nenets scholarship.
For example, he explored with Roza how we can interpret the fact that Nenets epic songs such as Yarabtsy” or Sydbabtsy” can start with silence instead of speech. So, as Golovnev masterfully put it: “in christianity, at the beginning was the word – in Nenets, at the beginning was silence”.
(English version see bеlow, after the end of the Russian text)
В связи с этой датой хотелось бы обратить внимание на один аспект эпидемии ВИЧ-инфекции в России, который еще недостаточно изучен и мало известен широкой общественности. Я и сам относительно недавно узнал о нем.
Как показывают исследования у коренного населения Севера риск заразиться ВИЧ выше, чем у остальных жителей России (см. Буторов 2018, Волова и Родиниа 2016, 2014 Истомин и Мефодьев 2015). Эта инфекция в России встречается гораздо чаще, чем в странах Европы, а среди коренного населения Ямало-Ненецкого и Ханты-Мансийского округов ВИЧ распространяется еще быстрее. Continue reading “1st December: “World Aids Day” Всемирный день борьбы со СПИДом – ВИЧ и коренные народы Севера в России HIV and indigenous peoples in Russia”
The recent announcement by the Yamal government to artificially reduce the number of reindeer in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug by a quarter of a million animals has caused a discussion in Russia that has now spilled over to the international arena. The Siberian Times has thoroughly reported about the plans both from the pro and the contra side.
Arctic Ark. Human-animal adaptations to the Arctic environment: natural and folk selection practices (Arc-Ark)
The Arctic is often seen as a biodiversity-poor region, where animal husbandry is solely based on herding of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). However, in northern Europe and Siberia, also breeding of special autochthonous cattle (Bos taurus) and horse (Equus caballus) breeds has a long tradition (for example, Northern Finncattle, Yakutian cattle, Mezen horse and Yakutian horse). Continue reading “Arctic Ark: new project on animal breeds, species and human practices in the Arctic”
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!
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”
Our colleagues from the Arctic Centre in Nadym, Yamal, organise from 17-19 November an interdisciplinary conference. These guys belong to a group of Russian researchers that truly believe in interdisciplinarity, and value a lot anthropological input from the West. If somebody is interested in taking part in that conference, you can write me a note in the comment section here. They promise simultaneous translation, and visa support if somebody wants to go personally. Maybe they can even pay somebody’s accmodation and travel costs within Russia if you can get yourself to Moscow. But mostly the idea is that some of us may contribute a presentation via skype. Topics are welcome in any field of Arctic anthropology, but most preferred maybe with an interdisciplinary angle towards biology, psychology, genetics, health research or medicine.