Chukotkan reindeer husbandry in the post-socialist transition
Gray, Patty A. (2000) Chukotkan reindeer husbandry in the post-socialist transition. Polar Research, 19 (1). pp. 31-37. ISSN 0800-0395
Reindeer herding in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, as in many other regions across the Russian North, has been experiencing a progressive collapse since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The collapse is typically blamed on Russia’s privatization program, which broke up collectivized reindeer farms into supposedly privatized enterprises. While this process did indeed bring significant changes to the practice of reindeer herding in Chukotka, this paper argues that a more fundamental issue is the political and economic change at the local level that most likely makes the collapse irreversible. According to the rhetoric of the new “democratic” framework, the majority rules, and their priorities take precedence. As a result, the indigenous peoples and their priorities – chief among which is reindeer herding – have been squeezed into the political margins. This has been exacerbated by the development of a relationship of internal colonialism between dominant urban Russians and village-dwelling indeigenous reindeer herders, which has led to greater inequalities between the two groups as the Russians monopolize both resources and power in the region.
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