De-politicized indigeneity and extractive activities in the Russian North-East

Theme 5. Other
Session Name 5.1 Current research on extractive industries and the sustainability in the Arctic
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Sardana Nikolaeva (University of Manitoba, Canada)
Abstract text

A plethora of literature on indigenous politics points out that the certain conditions of economic struggles, environmental instability, and state-perpetuated privatization of land have a strong potential to result in development of politicized indigeneity discourses. But how are indigeneities articulated in the region where indigenous politics in the traditional sense (based on demands for recognition, representation and territorial rights) are circumscribed and may appear virtually impossible? To explore the particular modes of indigeneity articulations in the Russian North-East and certain conjunctures within which indigenous peoples become involved in localized struggles and mobilizations, I have engaged in ethnographic study in Sakha Republic from February 2017 to March 2018. Sakha Republic presents a compelling research location as it has largely been developed as a colony of the Russian center, primarily as a natural resource rich region exploited for the strategic economic and political benefit of the Russian central government. A unique feature of this research is its focus on local de-politicized indigeneity dynamics, rooted in particular local histories, realities and subjectivities, operating strictly within state-recognized frameworks, yet, potential to challenge the existing relations of power. I argue that a detailed inquiry of indigeneity articulations and indigenous politics in Sakha Republic has a potential to provide a fertile ground for analyzing complexity of discourses of indigenous activisms and resistances in relation to local extractive activities, shed light on the current indigenous experiences and realities in the Russian North-East context, and draw out implications for the state politics targeting local indigenous communities.

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