Research Projects

Does the Geography of Russian Peripheries Really Change? - Dynamics of Spatial Restructuring and Industrial Development in Krasnoyarsk Krai and Murmansk Oblast

This research project investigates the development mechanisms of resource-based industries in the Russian North and their interplay with socio-economic changes and the transformation of spatial structures. The aim is to understand and to theorise the dynamics of socio-economic restructuring from the era of the planned economy to the present and to reveal its consequences for the local and regional structures and development. The mining communities, which have been affected significantly by restructuring, have been selected as suitable locations for the in-depth field-work.

The project starts with the analysis of the legacy of the former regional and local socio-economic structures: during the Soviet era the northern regions were industrialised and provided with the necessary infrastructure. The exploitation and industrialisation of the northern regions led to interpretation to a 'prioritised' and, nowadays, economically and socially problematic regional structure. As a consequence, there are numerous large single-industry communities, which is rather exceptional in arctic areas. The research project investigates the development pattern of the selected communities and the regional structure challenged by the Russian new economic and political environments. The development processes are studied by carrying out field-work (interviews and surveys), analysing secondary sources and by using geoinformatics.

The analyses based on field-work, geoinformatics and secondary sources create a basis for the assessment of geo-economic development opportunities. The future development is investigated by evaluation techniques and scenario analysis. The research examines the preconditions that exist for development in Russian regions and localities. The project aims to find out about future preferences of the population and to analyse their expectations for the local and regional development. Some researchers of the project have already carried out community-based studies on the Kola Peninsula and elsewhere (e.g. East-Central Europe and Australia ). The aim is to develop this research further by producing comparable case studies in Siberia and applying GIS and assessment techniques for bringing about results which could be generalised.

The research will not only produce theoretical but also practical knowledge and assessment tools in the fields of regional restructuring, industrial development and population change in the Russian North. In addition, the study will examine future preconditions that are necessary for the success of industrial activities in the northern regions. Based on this information, it will be possible to outline the future development alternatives in Russian localities and regions. In a nutshell, the project will produce new geographical regional development theory that explains the development of peripheral resource communities and regional structures in Russia .

Contact person: Professor Markku Tykkyläinen, University of Joensuu , Department of Geography P.O.Box 111 , FI-80101 Joensuu, Markku.Tykkylainen[at]joensuu.fi.

Duration: 1.1.2004 – 31.12.2006

Other members: Researcher Vesa Rautio, University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute, PL 42, 00014 Helsinki, vesa.rautio[at]helsinki.fi

Funding: The Academy of Finland, Russia in Flux Programme