Settlers on the Edge: Identity and Modernization on Russia's by Niobe Thompson

By Niobe Thompson

Based on broad learn within the Arctic Russian area of Chukotka, Settlers at the Edge is the 1st English-language account of settler lifestyles at any place within the circumpolar north to seem for the reason that Robert Paine’s The White Arctic (1977), and the 1st to discover the stories of Soviet-era migrants to the some distance north. Niobe Thompson describes the amazing transformation of a inhabitants as soon as devoted to constructing colonial strength on a northern frontier right into a rooted neighborhood of locals now resisting a renewed colonial undertaking. He additionally presents particular insights into the way forward for id politics within the Arctic, the position of source capital and the oligarchs within the Russian provinces, and the elemental human questions of belonging and transience.

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Additional info for Settlers on the Edge: Identity and Modernization on Russia's Arctic Frontier

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This is an important task, since it is precisely the examination of the non-indigenous experience in the Russian North that can help to mature and deepen this still nascent school of study. There are three distinct bodies of theoretical ferment within the larger anthropological discipline into which the figure and history of the settler in the North affords an entrée. ” The second ties into the debate on the nature of the Soviet everyday and the powers of the Soviet state occasioned by the vastly greater resources now available for producing social histories of Soviet life.

The spectacular separation in cultural and economic power between Russia’s metropoles and its provinces is perennial, an imbalance duplicated in Russia’s historical position adjacent to, but not within, dynamic and industrializing Western Europe. If some historians have characterized Russia as the original “developing nation” (Shanin 1985; Gerschenkron 1970), others have identified campaigns of “catching up” and the pattern of “compressed development” as a resulting compensation (see Lewin 1987; Kotkin 1995; Tucker 1990).

The tidal cycle of modernizing change in the Russian Far North continually sets up polarities of the mobile and immobile (signified in modernization’s discourse as the “modern” and the “fallen behind”). Modernity is always a condition of, in one or another respect, fastest, easiest, farthest movement. This is only logical, because distance itself is conditioned by power. ” When the first Russians settled on the banks of the Kolyma River, at the western edge of Chukchi territory, they lived as an underclass, dependent on the exquisite mobility of reindeer herders to periodically rescue them from starvation.

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