Peoples of the Tundra: Northern Siberians in the Post-Communist Transition by John P. Ziker
197 pages, $24.95 list
Self-contained study guide
Peoples of the Tundra
Northern Siberians in the Post-Communist Transition
On ethnographic grounds alone, Ziker’s book is a unique and valuable contribution. Despite increased fieldwork opportunities for foreigners in the former Soviet Union in recent years, much of Russia and Siberia remains terra incognita to Western scholars, except for specialists who know the Russian literature. Ziker’s account of the Dolgan and Nganasan peoples of the Ust Avam community is a fascinating analysis of how people adapt their hunting, fishing, and herding not only to the demanding Arctic environment but also to enormous economic and political adversities created in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. In this sense, the book fills a gap in the ethnographic literature on Siberia for Western students and, at the same time, serves as a microcosm of the devastating changes affecting rural communities and indigenous peoples generally in a disintegrating former superpower: that is, increasing isolation and a shift to nonmarket survival economies.
“Brilliant with regard to the author’s ability to handle ethnographic details and develop ample theoretic implications. Prescriptions are accurate, arguments are persuasive. This is a condensed ethnography with both qualitative and quantitative merits.” — Naran Bilik, Carleton College
Table of Contents
1. Peoples of the Tundra
2. Making a Living: Ecology and Economy
3. The Loud Years: Resistance and Collaboration
4. Alcohol and Violent Death
5. Shamans, Ancestors, Sin, and Sacrifice
6. The Law of the Tundra
7. The Future Is in Their Hands