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What Is the Etnologicheskaia Ekspertiza in Russia?

Olga A. Murashko

Keywords: anthropological (ethnological) expert review; etnologicheskaia ekspertiza; indigenous peoples; russian north; environmental impact assessment; social impact assessment; mineral resource extraction

Indigenous peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and the Russian Far East are increasingly demanding that proponents of industrial projects carry out an etnologicheskaia ekspertiza (anthropological expert review or ethno-cultural impact assessment) of their project, in order to assess the socio-economic and cultural impacts on local and indigenous communities living close to project sites. However, there is a lack of an appropriate legislative framework in Russia, no established methodology, and a lack of understanding among stakeholders about what an etnologicheskaia ekspertiza is. The established Russian environmental impact assessment process (requiring a state ecological expert review of projects) does not include assessment of socio-economic and cultural impacts on communities. In this article the author discusses the concept of etnologicheskaia ekspertiza and the context that gave rise to it, shares her practical experience, and makes recommendations for establishing a legal framework for etnologicheskaia ekspertiza, with reference to comparable Western concepts, such as social and cultural impact assessment.

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