Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Columbia University
Land Use, Land Claims and the Politics of Indigenous Identities in Kamchatka, Russia

The aim of this project is to investigate the persistence of indigenous land use practices in Kamchatka, Russia, and to examine the cultural meanings ascribed to these practices and their significance in emergent Siberian native identities. Anthropologists and cultural theorists have recently begun to emphasize the prevalence of phenomena such as 'deterritorialization', cultural hybridity and ever-shifting borders (political and cultural) in post-colonial contexts. However, political recognition and rights for ethnic minorities such as the various native peoples of Siberia often depend on the projection of exactly the opposite, that is images of rootedness and cultural purity. After over two centuries of Russian and Soviet rule, how are Siberian native peoples navigating between these two seemingly contradictory positions? This study will focus on the Kamchadals, initially described by ethnographers as 'Russified' native peoples of Kamchatka. Today however the Kamchadals are emphasizing their multiple origins, and this study will examine the competing loyalties and intertwined historical trajectories which the Kamchadals negotiate as they assert an emphatically hybrid identity in post-Soviet Russia.