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Responsibility and Authority in Drinking

Arctic Workshop at the University of Tartu, Estonia (30–31 May 2014)

Aimar Ventsel

This 2014 workshop was the fifth Arctic workshop held at the University of Tartu and the second dedicated to alcohol. In retrospect, both workshops were fruitful but differed in scope. The main difference between the first workshop in 2013 and second was that the first focused primarily on the social and cultural meaning of alcohol in the Arctic and the second broadened its geography. In the latter, we included papers presenting research results from outside the Arctic region. Comparing two workshops, then, it should be mentioned that, while the first was more in-depth, the second had more comparative focus. Besides various regions of Siberia, the talks in the workshop dealt with Mongolia, Latvia, and Sweden. Unfortunately, several participants had to cancel at the last moment—therefore an exciting study about alcohol use among Ethiopian students and the semantics of Canadian alcoholism were missed.

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Silvia M. Bell

Circularity, a salient theme in the film Lovers of the Arctic Circle (1999), is explored as a symbol that points to a consideration of issues central to psychic life. The movie sets up an expectation—two lives will be brought together to recreate a former blissful union, and complete a circle that defies finality, separation, and loss. It succeeds in creating a dialectic between two tensions, the experience of separateness where each person is a circle unto oneself, and the longing to be encircled with an "other" in a union that promises safety and permanence. The wish for fusion versus merger with the loved one is discussed in the context of traumatic loss and soul blindness. These early experiences interfere with healthy mourning and determine the reliance on magic and regressive compromise that contributes to a tragic outcome.

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“Where Do You Get Fish?”

Practices of Individual Supplies in Yamal as an Indicator of Social Processes

Elena Liarskaya

While there have long been communities in the Arctic where natives and incomers live together, many anthropological works on the region focus either on the natives or on the incomers exclusively. This article based on field data collected in the three points of the Yamal (Iar-Sale, Salekhard, and Salemal) where natives and incomers have long lived together, shows how this default distinction often employed by researchers and local authorities works differently in actual everyday practices of mixed communities. The author describes the practices aimed at compensating for the infrastructural deficits and insufficient supplies in the Yamal through the use of social networks to acquire necessary food and goods. The analysis shows that mixed communities of Yamal are more complex than previously thought and that the dichotomy of “incomers/ natives” is not adequate to describe them.

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An Environmentally Literate Explorer

A. E. Nordenskiöld’s Three Expeditions to the North Asian Coast, 1875–1879

Seija A. Niemi

Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1832–1901), a Finnish Swedish scientist and explorer, made three expeditions to the North Asian coast between 1875 and 1879. He completed ten expeditions to the Arctic region between 1858 and 1883. The unifying goal of the North Asian expeditions was to open a trade route between Europe and Siberia. As a scientist, Nordenskiöld also studied the flora, fauna, geology, geography, hydrology, meteorology, ethnology, and history, and produced charts of this unfamiliar territory. This article argues that Nordenskiöld used his skills of environmental literacy when he combined the commercial and scientific goals of his expeditions. He also had the ability to deal with the environment in practical and rational terms, which I argue is also one expression of environmental literacy.

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Adaptation--Genuine and Spurious

Demystifying Adaptation Processes in Relation to Climate Change

Thomas F. Thornton and Nadia Manasfi

In climate change discourse and policy, adaptation has become a critical byword and frame of reference. An implicit assumption in much of the strategizing is the notion that adaptation can be rationally planned, funded, and governed largely through existing frameworks. But can adaptation really be managed or engineered, especially given the significant unpredictability and severe impacts that are forecast in a range of climate scenarios? Over millennia, successful societies have adapted to climate shifts, but evidence suggests that this was often accomplished only through wide-ranging reorganization or the institution of new measures in the face of extreme environmental stress. This essay critically examines the concept of human adaptation by dividing it into eight fundamental processes and viewing each in a broad cultural, ecological, and evolutionary context. We focus our assessment especially on northern indigenous peoples, who exist at the edges of present-day climate governance frameworks but at the center of increasingly acute climate stress.

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Indigenousness and the Mobility of Knowledge

Promoting Canadian Governance Practices in the Russian North

Elana Wilson

This article illustrates ways in which a Canadian international development team attempted to legitimate the transfer of natural resource management and economic development models from the Canadian to the Russian North by positing the notion of fundamental similarities between Canadian and Russian northern indigenous peoples. Drawing upon interviews and my participation in the development project, I demonstrate ways in which Russian northern leaders responded to these supposed shared features and describe how the definition of indigenous was debated by Canadian and Russian project participants. Namely, indigenous project participants disagreed over whether indigenousness was rooted in descent or activity and what kind of economic future (mainstream market-oriented or rooted in subsistence practices) could sustain indigenous peoples. I conclude that indigenousness as a unity discourse may facilitate good international politics, but does not serve as an unproblematic mechanism for knowledge transfer and crosscultural communication on a level closer to home.

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The Concept of Manhood in Post-Socialist Siberia

The Sakha Father as a Wise Hunter and a Pastoralist

Hiroki Takakura

This article analyzes the family relationships of the Sakha people with particular focus on the concept of the father, both in a historical setting and in a contemporary context. The aim of this article is to shed light on alternative aspects of the life of Sakha pastoralists and to examine them within the broader historical and cultural perspective. Unlike previous studies on manhood and gender in post-socialist Russia, I suggest that the realization of a masculine identity as a father was possible, and that it has been transmitted through the generations, even during the socialist era. Hunting as a mode of minor subsistence and the perception of the socio-ecological environment related to it has been crucial for the preservation of the status of a man among the Sakha.

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Arctic Earthviews

Cyclic Passing of Knowledge among the Indigenous Communities of the Eurasian North

Tero Mustonen and Ari Lehtinen

This article examines the mechanisms and manners of maintaining the communal knowledge systems of the indigenous peoples of the circumpolar North. This is accomplished by paying attention to the concerns of distinguished community elders who have experienced the entwining of indigenous traditions and modernization during their lives. The article also introduces the concept of earthview, identifying the ethical and spiritual insights that inform the community-specific everyday skills of living in the North. The conclusion highlights the human/nonhuman cycles of intergenerational knowledge renewal that are mostly practical and oral by nature. The emergence of new elders is therefore critically grounded on the personal and communal skills of passing on the intimate knowledge of sensing changes in nature. By emphasizing the role of oral communication we underline that this knowledge (of earthviewing) only remains while being shared in everyday conditions and routines of land and life. We dedicate this article to the memory of Professor Vasilii A. Robbek.

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Processes of Remembering and Forgetting

Tundra Nenets' Reminiscences of the 1943 Mandalada Rebellions

Roza Laptander

Each political change in the former USSR and Russian Federation has had different influences on the lives of local populations in different areas. Nenets, like many other indigenous people of the Russian North, were not tied to any political situation. The perception was that they always lived independently in the tundra using their traditional and historical knowledge. In reality, when comparing even the most recent past of the Nenets to the present, many differences and contradictions become apparent in the lives of these northern people. This article discusses the role of censorship in the transformation and performance of historical narratives concerning the development of the relationship between the state and the indigenous tundra people, here Nenets. By distorting historical facts, through exaggeration and mythologizing real-life events, people tried to shield themselves against negative emotions and memories of the past.

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Kathleen Osgood and Anna Bara

John McCannon, A History of the Arctic: Nature, Exploration and Exploitation Kathleen Osgood

Julian Agyeman and Yelena Ogneva-Himmerlberger, eds., Environmental Justice and Sustainability in the Former Soviet Union Anna Bara