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Conversations with Power: Soviet and post-Soviet developments in thereindeer husbandry part of the Kola Peninsula
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology. Department of Archaeology and Social Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education. UIT The Arctic University of Norway.
2015 (English)Book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The book examines the way people talk with power – and power talks back to them – in the context of authoritarian state regimes, the Soviet/Russian one being the case in point. My claim is, in the first place, that there does exist such a conversation. I thus strongly resist the reading of recent Soviet history in terms of people’s mute and passive subordination to crushing imposition of power, or at best – of forms of indirect resistance or escapism. Instead, my claim is that multi-layered communication between the pinnacle and the broad base of the social pyramid was part and parcel of the identity of the Soviet period all along.

As it is argued in the book, grassroots-with-power communication in the Soviet and post-Soviet context reflects a will and corresponding practice for a continuously re-negotiated arrangement with power. Its principal thrust is the establishing of a grassroots-to-power tensed compromise over such fundamentally critical issues like existential security and a degree of well-being. I argue for the presence of effective grassroots’ agentivity in the Soviet/post-Soviet context. To examine it I turn special attention to the period of enforced collectivisation of agriculture (1929-1934) in the context of the reindeer husbandry economy of what is today Murmansk Region of NW Russia. My specific ethnography takes a reindeer husbandry practice of mixing private and collective reindeer as a metaphorical expression of a risk-free socioeconomic arrangement I call ‘sovkhoizm’. My general conclusion is that a socioeconomic and political environment that has sovkhoizm as a principal worldview presents serious communicative obstacles as regards a generalized ‘western’ attempt, over the last two decades, for constructive dialogue on, particularly, the Sami indgeneity issue.

The ethnographic basis of the study comes from long-term fieldwork with Sami and Komi reindeer husbandry teams in Lovozero District, Murmansk Region.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. , 417 p.
Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology, ISSN 0348-5099 ; 56
Keyword [en]
Kola Peninsula, Lovozero District, Sami people, reindeer husbandry, collectivisation, personal reindeer, grassroots-to-power discourse, mega-speech events
National Category
Cultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-265431ISBN: 978-91-554-9150-5OAI: diva2:865695
Available from: 2015-10-29 Created: 2015-10-29 Last updated: 2015-11-20Bibliographically approved

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