A new issue of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies Sibirica "Mobility and Infrastructure" was published. It collects works of the EUSP Center for Arctic Social Sciences with an introduction by the Center’s head Nikolai Vakhtin: "Mobility and Infrastructure in the Russian Arctic: Das Sein bestimmt das Bewusstsein?".

This special issue approaches the interrelated themes of mobility and infrastructure in the Russian Arctic. I will discuss the general topics covered in this set of articles and how these contributions help us understand the lives of people in northern Siberia today, and I will give some context on how these articles came about in the first place. Does being determine consciousness? Or does consciousness determine being? This special issue looks at the complex interplay between people’s perception of well-being and behavior, and their understanding and discourse around infrastructure. Several case studies examine the tension between perception, mobility, and infrastructure in communities across the Russian Arctic.

The new issue of the journal includes the following articles contributed by researchers of the Center for Arctic Social Sciences and their colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences:

Temporality of Movements in the North: Pragmatic Use of Infrastructure and Reflexive Mobility of Evenki and Dolgan Hunters, Reindeer Herders, and Fishers. Vladimir N. Davydov

This article addresses the problem of temporality and its potential use in mobility studies by providing examples from the author’s recent fieldwork among Evenkis and Dolgans. It examines the temporal dimension of hunters’, reindeer herders’, and fishers’ movements, and discusses the pragmatic use by local people, in the context of their mobility, of a variety of infrastructures and objects that were introduced to the landscape during the last century. It introduces the concept of points of constant return for ways of relating to places of intensive use beyond the binary opposition of settlements and the surrounding landscape. This article suggests analyzing movements in a broader context that includes not just their starting and final destinations but the relations of different locations in a set of movements of multiple actors and analyzes them as results of both reflexive and creative processes that lead to transformations of material objects and the landscape.

Temporal Dimension of Attitudes toward Infrastructure and Opportunities for Relocation from the Northern Town: The Case of Kamchatka Krai. Ksenia Gavrilova

In this article I will explore the correlation between the discourse of youths’ out-migration and their attitudes toward the infrastructure of Tilichiki, a small town in Kamchatka. I attempt to contest the perspective that out-migration (resulting in town depopulation) is caused by the perception of social infrastructure as insufficient. The analysis of local discourse shows that negative or positive descriptions of infrastructure, social services and life conditions in the town in general depend on whether the person has plans of leaving the town. This correlation is supported by temporal dimension of one’s life project: the duration of speakers’ residence in the town or the amount of time that they are planning to spend there.

Migration Destination Choice as a Criterion of Self-Identification: The Case of Young People Leaving Norilsk and Dudinka. Nadezhda Zamyatina

The article is based on a questionnaire distributed among the pupils of eight high schools in the city of Noril’sk, the city possessing the most extreme environmental conditions among the large Russian Arctic cities. Here I claim that the choice of migration direction is based on individual experience and social status. The local geographic myths and institutional environment are also relevant in making these choices. The method of using the geographic preferences and choices as a key to understanding the sociocultural phenomena of the city of Noril’sk provides significant insights. Since the tendency to express the intent to migrate is very strong among Arctic cities’ residents, I propose using such intentions as a new method for studying social processes in the Arctic. The direction of migration plans can also be used as a marker of a person’s social position in the North.

Mobility and Sense of Place among Youth in the Russian Arctic. Alla Bolotova, Anastassia Karaseva and Valeria Vasilyeva

This article explores how the mobility of young people influences their sense of place in different parts of the Russian Arctic. In globalization studies increasing mobility has often been set in opposition to belonging to place, and interpreted as diminishing local connections and ties. Recent studies show that the role of mobility in shaping a sense of place is more complex. The Russian Arctic is often considered a remote, hard-to-access area, despite the fact that local residents have always been very mobile. We compare three case studies from across the Russian Arctic—namely, the Central Murmansk region, the Central Kolyma, and Eastern Taimyr—showing how mobility shapes differently young residents’ sense of place. These regions have a different population structure (urban / rural, polyethnic / monoethnic) and different transportation infrastructure, thus providing a good ground for comparing the relationships between mobility and a sense of place in the Russian Arctic.

“Where Do You Get Fish?”: Practices of Individual Supplies in Yamal as an Indicator of Social Processes. Elena Liarskaya

While there have long been communities in the Arctic where natives and incomers live together, many anthropological works on the region focus either on the natives or on the incomers exclusively. This article based on field data collected in the three points of the Yamal (Iar-Sale, Salekhard, and Salemal) where natives and incomers have long lived together, shows how this default distinction often employed by researchers and local authorities works differently in actual everyday practices of mixed communities. The author describes the practices aimed at compensating for the infrastructural deficits and insufficient supplies in the Yamal through the use of social networks to acquire necessary food and goods. The analysis shows that mixed communities of Yamal are more complex than previously thought and that the dichotomy of “incomers/ natives” is not adequate to describe them.


Sibirica is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal covering all aspects of the region and relations to neighboring areas, such as Central Asia, East Asia, and North America.

The journal publishes articles, research reports, conference and book reviews on history, politics, economics, geography, cultural studies, anthropology, and environmental studies. It provides a forum for scholars representing a wide variety of disciplines from around the world to present findings and discuss topics of relevance to human activities in the region or directly relevant to Siberian studies.

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