Reindeer Herders’ Communities of the Siberian Taiga in Changing Social Contexts

in Sibirica
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Abstract

In recent decades the number of domestic reindeer stock across indigenous communities in the Siberian taiga have fallen dramatically. While this has been viewed as a crisis, this paper discusses how reindeer herders are adjusting their traditional herding strategies to modern conditions. A methodology of contextualization is used to evaluate five reindeer herders’ communities situated in different regions of Eastern Siberia. Changes in Siberian reindeer herding are analyzed according to three main types of contexts differing as to the period of their formation: a) traditional contexts that pre-existed the Soviet system, b) contexts formed in the Soviet time; and c) contexts created by post-Soviet reforms. Under modern conditions reindeer stock reduction is important relative to the economic context, but the role of reindeer herding in cultural and political contexts is increasing. The slow formation of “buffer” social contexts makes the taiga reindeer herding communities’ condition vulnerable.

Contributor Notes

Konstantin B. Klokov is professor of geography at the Department of Regional Politics and Political Geography, Institute of Earth Sciences, St. Petersburg State University. His research interests are in the traditional use of natural resources by the indigenous peoples of the North, in particular reindeer herding and hunting, as well as ethno-demographic issues. He is a participant of numerous expeditions to various regions of the Russian North and Siberia from Kola Peninsula to Chukotka and to Sayan Mountains.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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