The making of a home in a changing northern context: An ethnographic account of contemporary housing practices among Russian reindeer nomads

Svetlana Usenyuk*, Stephan Dudeck, Nikolai Garin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The article offers an ethnographic account of contemporary housing practices among nomadic reindeer herders in the Russian North. We draw on the results of an extensive fieldwork in several locations to describe how the making of mobile homes incorporates traditional and advanced technologies, and implicitly reflects the ongoing changes in the living and working environment of the communities under study. By observing the actions of planning, building, inhabiting and resettling embodied in a variety of dwelling designs, we have identified and documented three distinctive modes of resilience expressed in variations of mobile housing in a changing northern context, as follows: (1) facilitating full-time, family-based migration by exercising a well-established local practice of making and using a traditional conical tent; (2) maintaining full-time mobility under changing social and economic circumstances by inventing/developing a genuinely new type of portable dwelling; and (3) compensating the increasing mechanization of work with spontaneously growing complexity of the structure of stationary houses. The article aims to contribute to the emerging field of local adaptation and resilience by shedding light on the materiality of adaptive strategies and human creativity involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-202
Number of pages33
JournalPolar Journal
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Adaptation and resilience
  • Fieldwork
  • Mobile dwelling
  • Reindeer nomads
  • Russian North

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