Settlers on the Edge: Identity and Modernization on Russia's by Niobe Thompson

By Niobe Thompson

In keeping with vast learn within the Arctic Russian quarter of Chukotka, Settlers at the part is the 1st English-language account of settler existence anyplace within the circumpolar north to seem given that Robert Paine's The White Arctic (1977), and the 1st to explain the adventure of Soviet migrants within the Russian Arctic. protecting a span from the start of mass cost within the Fifties to the current day, Niobe Thompson's ethnography relies on settler life-histories, archival learn, and shut player remark over 5 years. Following an outline of the excessive modernist venture of Northern cost within the Soviet years, Settlers at the aspect deals a different portrait of an oligarchic "take-over" within the modern Russian Arctic. This unique remedy of a nearly unknown topic powerfully demanding situations just like the detached and temporary "newcomer" obvious within the present anthropology of the Arctic. Settlers at the part describes the outstanding transformation of a inhabitants as soon as devoted to setting up colonial energy on a northern frontier right into a rooted neighborhood of "locals" now resisting a renewed colonial venture. Thompson presents targeted perception into the way forward for identification politics within the Arctic, the position of source capital and the oligarchs within the Russian provinces, and the basic human questions of belonging and transcience.

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Extra resources for Settlers on the Edge: Identity and Modernization on Russia's Arctic Frontier

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Because the gift holds a hidden presumption of mutuality, giving and helping are critical drivers behind the circulation of goods within any self-sustaining community. This was certainly the case within Chukotka’s settler communities, where participation in the practices of exchange served as a boundary marker and source of identity. In this regard, the notion of “generalized reciprocity” is particularly useful for characterizing the importance of exchange among settlers and for explaining its perpetual quality.

In the process, a number of traditional coastal settlements along the Bering Strait were liquidated, partly due to their location in a sensitive border region near the Soviet Union’s Cold War enemy across the water. As the traditional herding and hunting way of life was reorganized under state control, native people lost ownership and managerial authority over their reindeer and all other forms of indigenous property to settler specialists. Dispossessed natives became state employees under the supervision of settlers, and their children were taught by settler teachers in village schools, many of which were residential.

Sustained as it is by intense affective bonds, “communion” is related to the Weberian concept of charisma, whose effects recede as its emotional powers become routinized. It is this unstable and ephemeral aspect of communities on the defensive that bears most relevance to the situation of settlers in Chukotka, faced as they were (from 2001 onward) with a radical but momentary program of modernization. It should be very clear that this study of settler identity concerns more than simply the moments of communion – the short-lived celebrations of collective feeling when under pressure from without.

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