Reindeer herder’s diary: a new perspective on the daily life of Arctic nomads

Lead Author Anastasia, Yarzutkina
Institution Contact Chukotka branch of North-Eastern Federal University. Russia, Anadyr, Studencheskaya st. 3. Tel. +74272224955
Theme Theme 3: Local and Traditional Knowledge
Session Name 3.1 Arctic Human-Rangifer Communities: Vulnerability, Resilience, Adaption to Global Changes
Datetime Wed, Sep 14, 2016 03:20 PM - 03:40 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text Many researchers, who have lived for months among reindeer herders, have disclosed almost all aspects of their lives to us. But do we know everything about nomadic reindeer herders?
We’d like to introduce a new source for the study of the reindeer herdsman’s everyday life, feelings, sensations, mobility and their perception of novelty. This diary has been kept for several years (1988, 1989, 1990, 1993) by a Chukchi reindeer herder from a camp within the Polar circle. Roaming across the tundra with his deer, this man recorded his daily movements, actions, feelings, and the things and people around him in a notebook. The realism and frankness of these diary entries give us a rare opportunity to look into the private life of the reindeer herder, who has learned all the blessings and harm of civilization.
The diary entries of the reindeer herder and interviews with other arctic deer herdsmen serve as a basis for several new issues relating to changes in the daily lives of reindeer herders and their changing interpretations of the traditional aspects of their world, which was at it's peak in the Chukchi Peninsula in the 1980s and 90s.
Daily records in the reindeer herder’s diary highlighted problems such as changes in time management. Thanks to technical innovations, new tools and foodstuffs, reindeer breeders got extra time off, free from survival, deer care and welfare tasks. This extra time proved unnecessary in the strictly scheduled and regular traditional scenario of daily life. As a result, according to his diary, he spent this time seeking alcohol, drinking heavily, playing cards, or dragging himself to the village to watch TV. We also raise the question of spirits in the lives of reindeer breeders, as we deem alcohol to become an emblematic product of changes in the daily lives of Arctic nomads.
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