Accepted Paper:

Woman and her knowledge: the Nenets nomads of the Russian North  


Zoia Vylka Ravna (University of Wyoming)

Paper short abstract:

The Nenets woman is in charge of her nomadic dwelling. She has to possess unique indigenous knowledge in order to create, to build, to maintain the dwelling. She also has to transfer this knowledge to her children. This is an ethnographic description of the indigenous knowledge.

Paper long abstract:

The official policy of the Soviet state towards nomadic population was to change their way of life, by implementation of the collective property on reindeer, boarding school education and displacement of women to settlements. This policy, however, never succeeded on the territories of Jamal Nenets people; they have always been and remain to be a hundred percept nomads. After the Soviet regime collapsed, Nenets reindeer herders managed to re-build the private ownership to their reindeer. Today they face another challenges. The globalization in the form of modern technologies, massive industrial development, exploration of underground resources, construction and building of infrastructure and climate changes are affecting the life of tundra inhabitants. Now the space around and inside of the nomadic dwelling is going through many changes, whether the nomads want it or not. This paper is based on the ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2015-2016 on the area of Yamal Peninsula, Northern Russia. The territory of the Yamal Peninsula (Yamal is "the end of the world" from Nenets language) is a home and summer pasture for more than 700.000 reindeer and approx. 13.000 nomads. Their dwelling has been marginally changed and is in use in all the areas of the Nenets. In addition, only in the symbiotic connection of the work of Nenets women and men the "successful" dwelling can be made. So, the tendency of forced or voluntary removing/ displacing the Nenets women from the nomadic camps as it is indoctrinated in the policy and education of the Russian Federation can have devastating consequences for this culture.

Panel LL-NAS01
Anthropology of movement: a road map