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Nordic Russian and Eastern European Studies Conference
Intentions, Interactions and Paradoxes in Post-Socialist Space
24-25 May 2013 in Helsinki, Finland


Socioeconomic significance of developmental projects in Northwest Russia: the Insiders' Point of View
Chair and discussant: Yulian Konstantinov (Tromsø University, Norway)
Vladislava Vladimirovna (Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden): Intensification of Resource use or Intensified Regulation of Resources: Fish Quotas for Indigenous People in Murmansk Region
Elena Liarskaia (European University at St. Petersburg, Russia): Boarding Schools as Agents of Modernization in Yamal: Shifting the Relation between State Schooling and Indigenous People in Postsoviet Russia
Mikkel Berg-Nordlie (Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, Norway): The evolution of indigenous representation in Murmansk Province
Dmitry Arzyutov (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Kunstkamera, Russian Academy of Science, Russia): The soviet concept of the Samoed ethnogenesis and its political and administrative implications

This panel invites discussion of current social policy in the context of an ongoing "new wave" of Russian utilization of its northwestern territories, in terms of formulation and application, with an emphasis on various types of public responses to major economic and technological developments in the region, exemplified in day-to-day practices. This governmental policy forms part of an officially proclaimed economic and technological modernization on a country-wide scale. The impacts of these modernization projects on indigenous adaptations as they concern indigenous economy, resource use, family life, are immense. The panel is based on a research project with the same name, funded by the Norwegian Research Council under the program FRISAM and hosted at Tromsø University, Norway, with project coordinator Trond Thuen and project leader Yulian Konstantinov.
A more specific focus of the panel is how 'ordinary people are influenced and make sense of rapid social change produced by state initiated modernization projects within sectors such as oil and gas extraction and processing, mining, transportation, as well as other forms of industrial Development and natural resource use. We offer presentations about the construction of governmental and regional social policies and to what extent they capture social problems that are experienced at the grass-roots level. 'Informal economies', as they emerged during the Soviet era and evolved further till the present, are another focus of interest. Within this context we want to know what sense the general public makes of current ideological slogans, political and social events, as well as the social policy applications that are adopted on a community level, i.e. strategies of resilience or resistance to state-promoted projects. In order to get a reliable and varied picture of present trends, the panel organizers invite presentations from Northern Regions of Russia that were not initially included in the research project under the same name, whose main regional focus is the Northwest of Russia. We also concentrate on a series of different communities on a gradient from the big city to smaller urbanized areas to the smallest tundra village. We are interested in questions like what will be the fate of formerly secluded villages and one-mine towns and key industrial sites in terms of living conditions; will modernization plans improve or aggravate the situation of indigenous peoples; is there anything like a co-management policy likely to emerge taking into account the interests of the local and, particularly, the indigenous population? Through this focus on broadly defined social issues the panel seeks to balance and complement research efforts against the technological and economic development oriented types of research that seem to dominate academic work in the region.
The proposal falls within two of the thematic areas of the conference: Modernization Processes and Paradoxes and Clashes of Contemporary Society. Its primary objective is to increase knowledge of social policy formation in Russia's High North, its application, as well as the public response it generates. Following from this, our presentations are rooted in longitudinal fieldwork in the Russian North. The panel also aims at generation of knowledge that can orient research agendas of other future fieldwork-based projects, specifically such that target cross-border initiatives in the social sphere, indigenous, as well as environmental problems.