Based on fieldwork in Nenets tundra encampments and
multiethnic villages on the northern Yamal Peninsula, this article
discusses people’s experiences and expectations of married life.
Two types of marriage—”arranged” and “love marriage”—are used
to illustrate how marriage brings to the fore the political economy
of desire and local reflections on the good society. The article suggests
that while Soviet ideology and post-Soviet neotraditionalist
discourses have endorsed customary attitudes toward arranged Nenets
marriage, love marriage including marriage with Russians often
leads to a situation in which “love” or “alien romance” is tempered
by “reason” rather than relying on a “modern” nuclear family ideal.
It argues that tundra marriage, including arranged marriage, is commonly
underwritten by subjectively understood chances of leading
a good family life.