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Native Marriage “Soviet” and “Russian” Style

The Political Economy of Desire and Competing Matrimonial Emotions

Vera Skvirskaja

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.

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The many faces of Turkish Odessa

Ecumenical communities and multiple alliances across the Black Sea

Vera Skvirskaja

The article discusses regional territoriality by looking at the heterogeneous community of Turkish male migrants and the multiple alliances they establish in post-Soviet Odessa, Ukraine. In its public image, the city plays down ideas of urban continuities with the Ottoman past, but new relations between Turkish newcomers and various Turkic-speaking groups in the area both create different and overlapping “ecumenical communities” and actualize long-forgotten connections or marginal historical visions. These migrants also generate important links to the area through marriage and intimate relations with Slav women. I argue that alliances between Turkish migrants and Turkic-speaking minorities and local women not only allow them to make the city their own, but also create a distance from wider Odessan society.

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Introduction

The Black Sea as region and horizon

Caroline Humphrey and Vera Skvirskaja

The introduction first outlines different perspectives on the Black Sea: in history, as a site of imperial conflicts and a buffer zone; in area studies, as a “region”; and in anthropology, as a sea crisscrossed by migration, cultural influences, alternative visions, and often a mutual turning of backs. We then discuss the Black Sea in the context of maritime ethnography and the study of ports, “hero cities”, pipelines, and political crises. The following sections consider Smith's notion of the “territorialization of memory” in relation to histories of exile and the more recent interactions brought about by migration and trade. In the concluding section we discuss how the Black Sea has appeared as a “horizon” and imaginary of the beyond for the peoples living around its shores.

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Trading places

Post-socialist container markets and the city

Caroline Humphrey and Vera Skvirskaja

This article discusses a vast, new and semi-legal marketplace of shipping containers on the outskirts of Odessa, Ukraine. It is suggested that such markets, which have sprung up at several places in post-socialist space where routes intersect, have certain features in common with mediaeval trade fairs. However, today's markets have their own specificities in relation to state and legal regimes, migration, and the cities to which they are semi-attached. The article analyzes the Seventh Kilometer Market (Sed'moi) near Odessa as a particular socio-mythical space. It affords it own kind of protection and opportunities to traders, but these structures may be unstable in a changing economic climate.