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On uses of "wild nature"

empowered versus disempowered agency in Kola reindeer Herding territories (murmansk region, nw Russia)

Yulian Konstantinov

pp. 3-14

The groundwork of this paper comes from 3 months of research in the reindeer-husbandry part of the Kola Peninsula (March–May 2016). I examined the variety of uses of the "wild nature' concept among three groups of tundra-focussed actors ("oligarchs', "old bosses' and "city anglers'). They fall on both sides of a "dominating/dominated' class division in the context of post-Soviet reality. The findings suggest a reassessment of the position, inherent in critiques of "nature-culture' dichotomies, according to which they are conceptually born exclusively for the purposes of domination. Uses of tundra space, firmly separated from an urban antipode, reveal motivations of dominance by empowered actors. At the same time, uses through which disempowered actors attain access to appealing alternative cosmologies can also be seen. Such diverse uses of tundra space I examine through their realizations in terms of tundra access and mobility. I show that a dichotomizing town-tundra ("culture-nature') division is perceived as necessary for all of them, but for different reasons. This calls for reassessing existing critiques of culture-nature bounderism. Its conceptual roots as well as instrumental motivations are in need of examination beyond current privileging of empowered actors as exclusive agents. The role of disempowered actors for sustaining culture-nature dichotomies, their diverse conceptualizations and forms of agency need also to be considered.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-99392-8_1

Full citation:

Konstantinov, Y. (2019)., On uses of "wild nature": empowered versus disempowered agency in Kola reindeer Herding territories (murmansk region, nw Russia), in J. Selmer methi, A. Sergeev & B. Nikiforova (eds.), Borderology: cross-disciplinary insights from the border zone, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 3-14.

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