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'THE LAST KULAK' AND OTHER STORIES OF POST-PRIVATISATION LIFE IN CHUKOTKA'S TUNDRA

Patty A. Gray
Nomadic Peoples
New Series, Vol. 10, No. 2, Special Issue: Humans and Reindeer on the Move (2006), pp. 50-67
Published by: White Horse Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43123777
Page Count: 18
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'THE LAST KULAK' AND OTHER STORIES OF POST-PRIVATISATION LIFE IN CHUKOTKA'S TUNDRA
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Abstract

Privatisation of state farms in Russia precipitated a crisis in the reindeer herding economy. Chukotka once had the largest domestic reindeer herd in Russia, and the plummet in Chukotka's reindeer headcounts was steeper than anywhere else in the country. At the same time, reindeer herding in some regions of Russia, such as Yamal, remained relatively stable. This paper argues that much of the difference between Chukotka and other regions can be attributed to the particular, and very political, nature of the social relationship between local tundra-dwelling populations and the most immediate representative of the state apparatus that they face: the district administration. Using stories told by tundradwellers in one district of Chukotka, the paper explores the frustrations they experienced as their efforts to take more control of their own local situation were stymied by those in the bureaucracy above them. It concludes that politics and power relations should not be overlooked as a crucial factor in determining regionally-variable outcomes in post-privatisation reindeer herding in the Russian north, and can overpower or exacerbate economic and ecological factors.

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