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Open access

Joachim Otto Habeck, Spencer Abbe, and Stephen Dalziel

Maria Czaplicka: Gender, Shamanism, Race: An Anthropological Biography Grażyna Kubica, translated by Ben Koschalka (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2020), Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology Series, eds. Regna Darnell and Robert Oppenheim], xix + 591 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4962-2261-9.

Place and Nature: Essays in Russian Environmental History Edited by David Moon, Nicholas B. Breyfogle, and Alexandra Bekasova (Cambridgeshire, UK: White Horse Press 2021,), 343 pp. ISBN: 978-1-912186-16-7.

Mebet Alexander Grigorenko, translated by Christopher Culver (London: Glagoslav Publications, 2020), 174 pp. $23.65 (paperback). ISBN: 978-1-912894-90-1.

Open access

The Cultural Industries of the North through the Eyes of Young Russians

A Report on the Experience of Network Collaboration between Universities

Marina Maguidovitch and Lena Sidorova

Beginning in the late 1920s, the central driving force responsible for the preparation of specialists for work in the Northern, Siberian, and Far Eastern regions of the Russian Federation has been the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, St. Petersburg (Herzen University), primarily led by the Institute of the Peoples of the North. Here, linguists are trained in twenty-three languages of Northern indigenous minorities. Notably, several languages of these minority groups—such as Nganasan, Dolgan, Itelmen, Enets, Ul’ta—are taught only here. The university also provides training in the field of traditional cultures of indigenous peoples (methods of traditional applied arts and crafts of the peoples of the North; dance and musical folklore; museology, etc.).

However, not all experts in Northern studies are aware of the educational programs and scientific schools within the Department of Theory and History of Culture at Herzen University, under which the committee for the defense of doctoral and candidate dissertations has been working jointly with the Institute of the Peoples of the North for thirty years. The chairman of the council, doctor of arts, Professor L. M. Mosolova is the founder of the department and the head of the scientific school for the study of the culture of the regions of Russia, the countries of Northern Europe, and Eurasia. A significant amount of research completed by students—from undergraduate to postgraduate levels—is dedicated to the history and current issues of the various regions of Russia, including Siberia, the Far East, and Northern Europe.

Open access

Neglected Transportation Infrastructure

Corporate Social Responsibility and the Russian State in a Small Siberian Oil Town

Gertrude Saxinger, Natalia Krasnoshtanova, and Gertraud Illmeier

Verkhnemarkovo, a small Siberian town located on an oil field in Russia’s Irkutsk region, is plagued by bad roads and limited mobility. This article explores the relationship between corporate social responsibility and the wellbeing of individuals and communities, with a focus on transport and mobility infrastructure. Some oil companies, such as Irkutsk Oil Company, are tied to the sustainability standards of international financial institutions. The article addresses the question of why people are in limbo between the state and local operating oil companies. Contemporary life in Verkhnemarkovo is characterized by so-called infrastructural violence, which results from the lack of state support—or false promises made by the state— and relates to good transport infrastructure. In their complaints, local people recall the Soviet past and expect support from the state or industry.

Open access

Andrei V. Grinёv and Richard Bland

This article analyzes social protest in the Russian colonies in Alaska and Northern California. The main reasons for protests were the actions of the colonial administration or abuse by its representatives, along with dissatisfaction with the financial situation, rules, conditions, and remuneration for labor, as well as shortages of commodities and food for a considerable part of the population of the Russian colonies. Protest activity in Russian America was relatively insignificant, and its primary forms were complaints, minor economic sabotage, and desertion. Most protest acts took place during the 1790s–1800s, when the colonial system was formed, and exploitation of dependent natives and Russian promyshlenniki (hired hunters of fur-bearing animals) reached its peak. The representatives of the Russian-American Company who managed Alaska from 1799 on tried to block protest activity and not allow open displays of dissatisfaction, since the result could hinder trade, business, and finally, profits and its image in the eyes of the tsar’s authorities.

Open access

Jenanne Ferguson

The three articles featured in this issue may not appear to be related, but within their varying contexts, I found myself teasing out several chords that resonate throughout them, and one, in particular, struck me as notable. Directly or indirectly, these articles (as well as the report) all address the notion of problem-solving in some shape or form. Whether a historical account of protest as an attempt to solve issues of discontent among fur trade workers in Russian America, approaches to discussing climate change in northeastern Siberia, coping with failing infrastructure and the negotiation of corporate versus state responsibility—or dealing with COVID lockdowns and scholarly knowledge exchange at present—the articles in this issue all explore the confrontation of problems and how they might be solved.

Open access

Susan Crate

This article explores how a community’s perceptions of a changing climate may shift over time, and the ways in which certain cultural predilections emerge in the process. Through replicating the same focus group method with Viliui Sakha in 2008 and again in 2018, the analysis reveals both continuity in cited changes as well as new emergent ones. Following this comparative exercise, the article further probes two culturally specific phenomena: how some inhabitants continue to attribute change to a long-disproven driver, de facto perpetuating a cultural myth, and how others expressed starkly contrasting perceptions of change. For both, the analysis reveals the importance of using a cultural framing founded in a people’s vernacular knowledge system with a focus on historical precedence for the former case, and on sacred beliefs for the latter.

Open access

Being There While Not Being There

Reflections on Multi-sited Ethnography and Field Access in the Context of Forced Migration

Laura K. McAdam-Otto and Sarah Nimführ

Multi-sited research has become a quality criterion for ethnographic research. This applies especially to studies on forced migration. Here, a site is often equated with a state, where researchers are usually required to be physically present. In this article, however, we ask: Must multi-sited research necessarily be multi-national? Do researchers have to be physically present at all sites? By discussing ethnographic material collected with forced migrants in Malta, we demonstrate that multi-sitedness is viewed in too narrow terms when site is equated with the nation-state. Adopting this approach also obscures refugees’ lived realities, their patterns of movement and their often truncated mobility. Instead, we carve out an understanding of multi-sited ethnography within one locality, introducing the concept of un-participated sites to include sites researchers are not able to physically visit. While the inaccessibility of sites is often inherent to ethnographic studies, it is all the more relevant for migration research.

Open access

Britain, Brexit and Euroscepticism

Anthropological Perspectives on Angry Politics, Technopopulism and the UK Referendum

Cris Shore

When history books about Brexit are written a key question asked will be ‘how did it happen?’ How did a country renowned for stable governments, pragmatism and diplomacy produce a chaotic outcome so harmful to its economic interests and international standing? This article examines the factors that produced Brexit by analysing its political and historical context, the main campaign groups and their communication strategies. Drawing on the work of Verdery (1999), Maskovsky and Bjork-James (2020) and other anthropologists, I suggest we need to look beyond conventional political science concepts and consider Brexit in terms of ‘enchantment’, ‘angry politics’ and ‘technopopulism’. I conclude that while Brexit provides a window for analysing fault lines in contemporary Britain, it also highlights problems in the EU, its austerity politics and democratic deficit.

Open access

Building Rapport

‘Curing’ and ‘Charming’ as Cultural Intimacy in Everyday Bureaucratic Encounters in the Northern Ireland Farming Community

Irene Ketonen-Keating

How does sharing hidden but valuable magical information help Northern Ireland (NI) Catholic and Protestant farmers build rapport? I suggest that it serves as a form of cultural intimacy by emphasising common beliefs, while downplaying possibly conflicting ethnoreligious identities. Magical practices such as ‘curing/charming’ remain common among NI farmers. It refers to asking a person with ‘the cure’ for a specific condition (such as bleeding or heart disease) to heal a sufferer. During nine months of fieldwork, conducted between 2012 and 2014, I learned that farmers, inspectors, and NGO staff often discuss ‘curing’ during their bureaucratic encounters. One person mentions a relative who is sick. The other then provides contact information for a healer with ‘the cure’ for such an ailment. Both Catholics and Protestants practice ‘curing’ in very similar forms.

Open access

Consuming and Certifying Quality

Alta Qualità and Food Choice in Italy

Lauren Crossland-Marr

This article explores the use of the term alta qualità across two third-party certification (TPC) realms. TPCs assure that foods have certain qualities such that they are sourced within a national boundary, reduce environmental damage, or promote healthy living. In Europe, many TPCs support the economically and socially significant sector of artisanal foodways. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Milan, north Italy, the article provides context to understand how, when, and why alta qualità is uttered. Relying on the pragmatic economic sociological theory of qualification, I show that alta qualità is an important way to signify that a food is good, but this does not always mean it is consumable. For those institutionalising qualities, alta qualità signifies elements of taste, marketing, and organisational structure.