Oral History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic - ORHELIA    

(2011-2015)

A common history – common economy - common language roots – and different practices - among four Arctic indigenous peoples

The idea for this project arose long ago, when we were talking to a Pupta Pudanasevich Yamal (this surname does not exist on paper any more , but in the memories of people) and his wife in Yamal, West Siberia, who told their life story in 2001. Their grandchildren couldn't believe how much they had gone through. They asked then if we could record more of such history to bring some of this wealthy memory to younger people.

People living in the Arctic have had decisions made for them, far away in Southern in capital cities, be it in Russia, Finland or any other Northern country. Our project would like to take a bottom-up approach to the writing and reading of the histories of the people of the North, and how their lives developed in the 20th Century.

The acronym Orhelia translates as “Oral History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic” with the subtitle “A comparative history of the relations between states / Empires and their subjects in their northernmost peripheries”. Preliminary research has already started and a short experience report from the first field trip is available at the Arctic Anthropology Blog.

The Orhelia project developed a comparative history of relations between remote people and states in the eyes of Arctic indigenous elders, by using the method of life history analysis and oral history fieldwork combined with anthropological participant observation. Doing so, the project also contributed to preserve incorporeal cultural heritage among Uralic speaking northern minorities of Europe and study the transmission of historical heritage between different generations.

The project was funded by the Research Council for Society and Culture at the Academy of Finland.