INNOCOM, news and activities

field kitchen during the northern peoples’ festival in Novyi Urengoi, 2008 (F.Stammler)

Publication announcement 31 October 2009

Nuykina, Elena. Resettlement from the Russian North: an analysis of state-induced relocation policy.
Arctic Centre Reports 55.

Publication announcement 31 October 2009

The MOVE-INNOCOM team co-edited a book on the northern industrial citiy with partners from West Siberia. The 215 page volume is available as full pdf copy for download. Biography, Shift-labour and Socialisation in a Northern Industrial City // The Far North: Particularities of Labour
and Human Socialisation. Proceedings of an international conference in Novy Urengoi, edited by G.A. Dzida, F. Stammler, G. Eilmsteiner-Saxinger, M.A. Pavlova, T.A. Bakhrusheva & Zajrat Borlakova. 

MOVE conference, and BOREAS final conference , 26-31 October 2009

The BOREAS MOVE project team is proud to host an international conference on the role of the state in population movements, and in conjunction the final conference of all ESF BOREAS projects at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi. More detailis to be found on the conference website

4-6 December 2008: conference in the field

Life, Shift Labour and Socialisation in the Northern Industrial City

organised jointly by MOVE-INNOCOM and the Novyi Urengoi Branch of Tyumen State University

The industrialisation of the Arctic is a rather recent development, and the whole history of most northern industrial cities can be captured within one human lifetime. The third and fourth generation of inhabitants is now reaching adolescence. Only in the 21st century pensioners became a part of the city population.
In Russia, these cities started as part of one of the world’s largest relocation projects. They owe their existence to base-camps for temporary shift-workers and labour migrants for extracting mineral resources of the Russian North. With advancing industrialisation, many of the transient inhabitants of these cities made their home there, and base-camps for shift workers became permanent cities with an active social sphere, developed infrastructure, and high standard of living.
This transformation brings new challenges for the social and economical viability / sustainability of these cities, which influences various aspects of their inhabitants’ lives. The city-authorities as well as cultural, educational and scientific institutions are confronted with new challenges that call for alternative solutions and open new opportunities. Institutions have started to develop programmes for studying the specifics of the organisation of labour and the adaptation of the young generation in northern industrial cities. However, little is known to date on the everyday life, problems, and (multiple) senses of belonging of this population, in particular those of fly-in / fly-out shift-labourers (vakhtoviki).
This conference invites specialists and practitioners to analyse developments connected to the viability of northern industrial cities from different perspectives. It provides a forum of exchange and dialogue between Russian and Western scholarly expertise as well as with practitioners. This will contribute to a more holistic understanding of social dynamics in young northern industrial cities which may prove useful for further development and strengthening community-viability. Participants and organisers of the conference are united by a lively interest and affection to the North.

 Date: 4-6 december 2008
• Place: Novyi Urengoi, YNAO, West Siberia. ‘Yamal’ conference Centre
• Target Group: scholars with an interest in social viability of northern cities, practitioners, industrial companies
• Languages: Russian (main), English (translation)
•  Organisers:
• ARCTIC CENTRE, UNIVERSITY OF LAPLAND, ESF BOREAS-MOVE-INNOCOM project. Florian Stammler, coordinator anthropology research team, , email: stammler(at)
• SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Education
• TYUMEN STATE UNIVERSITY, Novyi Urengoi Branch Marina Anatol’evna Pavlova, director of research, E-mail: ftgu(at)
• UNIVERSITY OF VIENNA, AUSTRIA, Research Project “Labour Migration in the Siberian Far North – Lives of Vakhtoviki and their Social Construction of Space“.Gertrude Eilmsteiner-Saxinger, INNOCOM research affiliate , gertrude.eilmsteiner-saxinger(at)

Papers were be presented on the following topics:
• International and Russian experience of circumpolar industrialisation
• Studies on all aspects of adaptation among incomers and their descendants in the North
• relocation, anthropology of labour, demographic development of the North.
• formation of collective identities and civil society in northern cities
• The history and principles of northern city development in the eyes of practitioners, participants, eye-witnesses and politicians
• Understandings of ‘home’ and ‘homeland’, and multiple senses of belonging among incomers in the north and their descendants.
• Relocation biographies and attachment to place among different groups of northerners.
• Ways of dwelling and social cohesion in northern industrial communities, in families of their inhabitants, families of vakhtoviki shift-workers. Socialisation and education youth under shift-labour working conditions in their families.
• Organisation of labour in northern industry. The past, present and future of intra-regional or inter-regional shift-work (vakhtovyi metod)
• Programmes of labour administration, settlement and relocation in northern industrial cities.

Additional Programme
Excursion to a gas extraction and production facility close to Novyi Urengoi

We plan to publish the papers of the conference in Russian with english abstracts in an online publication at Tyumen State University. Release date: October 2009.

Speakers from ESF BOREAS include (among others):

• Florian Stammler, ESF BOREAS MOVE INNOCOM, PI, Senior Researcher, coordinator, Anthropology Research Team, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland. Between temporariness and permanence. Studying Northern industrial cities in their search for a place in a rapidly changing Russian society.
• Timothy Heleniak, ESF BOREAS MOVE US PI, Senior researcher, University of Maryland, department of Geography. West Siberia in the comparative analysis of migration patterns in the Russian North since Perestroika.
• Lyudmila Lipatova, Senior Research Fellow, YNAO Shemanovskii Museum, Salekhard: Through the eyes of witnesses: studying Northwest Siberian industrial development through memories of key figures.
• Alla Bolotova and Florian Stammler ESF BOREAS MOVE INNOCOM, Researchers, , Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland. Place-attachment in northern industrial cities through the biographies of early-incomers. Kovdor (Murmansk Oblast) and Nadym (Yamalo-Nenetskii A O) compared.
• Gertrude Eilmsteiner-Saxinger, ESF BOREAS MOVE research affiliate, University of Vienna. Home – Travel – Work-shift: Multilocality and the understanding of three significant social spaces among commuting shift workers (vakhtoviki) in industry
• Elena Nuykina, ESF BOREAS MOVE INNOCOM, Research Assistant, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland. Master student, Kassel University: the comparative analysis of relocation programmes in the Russian North: Murmansk Oblast and Yamal-Nenets Okrug.
• Stefan Dudeck, Max Planck-Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany: Diversity of livelihoods in the Taiga and the northern industrial city.


Research partner of INNOCOM in New York Times

Viktor Egorovich Seliverstov was one of our very enlightening interview-partners in Novyi Urengoi in spring 2008 during fieldwork.He came first to the North from Tatarstan in 1978, and ever since worked in the oil and gas sector, most recently for Yamburggazdobycha (now renamed to Gazprom Dobycha Yamburg) until his retirement. He invited Lyudmila Lipatova and Florian Stammler of INNOCOM to his workshop and told us his biography, his development as a gas worker, as an artist. We learned a lot from him about the history of northern industrialisation through his memories, as well as about the system of relocation of gas workers from the North to Central Russia, housing problems, financial constraints, and other important topics.
Viktor Egorovich has been planning to leave the North for many years, has applied for several relocation assistance programmes, but now realised that it’s not worth planning anymore, because he already got out of the habit of this heat in the south. When he tried to go south for a holiday, he survived there 10 days out of 21 planned days, and came back to Novyi Urengoi early. There he developed close ties and turned his Hobby into his main occupation. For decades, he has been using any idle time for carving beautiful wooden figurines, more recently also of mamooth ivory. He refurbished an old garage into his workshop, and does wonderful art works, which recently were exhibited in the local museum for fine arts. Gazprom-subsidiary Yamburggazdobycha, his former employer, now order these figurines regularly in larger quantities and give them as presents to their VIP guests.
Viktor Egorovich says about his art works that he is always co-authoring with nature. He looks at a piece of wood, or ivory, and from that he understands what the affordance of that particular piece is. Every piece has an inherent form, and that is the point of departure for the forms that Seliverstov adds (see picture)

Recently the New York Times interviewed him and published a long article that analyses the business with mamooth ivory. There are very famous schools of ivory-carving in the Russian North, e.g. the one in Uelen, Chukotka, or the one in Tobolsk, West Siberia, but for some reason they chose Viktor Egorovich as artist to interview. Read the article in english here.

Some of our Siberian friends have asked what was written in the article, so I wrote a more or less exact summary in Russian and post it here. We hope we will meet with Viktor Egorovich again in October 2008 during the next field visit of INNOCOM to Novyi Urengoi.

Партнер по исследованиям в проекте ИННОКОМ в газете Нью-Йорк Таймс

Виктор Егорович Селиверстов - молодой пенсионр "Ямбурггаздобыча" (сейчас "Газпром Добыча Ямбург"), который провел всю свою рабочую жизнь в газовой промышленности ЯНАО, но, важнее, занимается постоянно резьбой дерева и бивня мамонта. Для нашего проекта ИННОКОМ, он является очень интересным партнером и беседником, от которого мы много узнали. Он пригласил нас в свою мастерскую в Новом Уренгое и рассказывал нам свою жизнь, своя биография на Севере, и свое жудожественное развитие. Он очень интересно рассказывает, как его работы с дерева - это "со-авторство с природой". Это значит, в "сыром куске дерева", он видет его природная форма, и вырабатывает эту форма по своему стилу. Его работы  выставлялись в музее изобразительных исскусств г. Нового Уренгоя, и Газром Добыча Ямбург их закупает и подарит своим почетным гостям в Ямбурге. Статья Нью-Йорк Таймс пишет в основном о бивня мамонта, который составляет только меньшая часть работ Виктора Егоровича.

"Я даю мамонтам вторую жизнь"
резюме статьи New York times, 26/03/08, написано Андрю Е. Крамером.
Извиняюсь за многочисленные ошибки, но надеюсь, что тем не менее смысль можно понять.

Статья берет начало с Виктором Егоровичом Селиверстовом, который работает в мастерской элекстрическими инструментами над мамонтовым костем. Художественные изделия, которые он мастерит – ручки для ключей, для ножей, и фигурки.
Торговля вивнем мамонта – традиционный Российский бизнес, который почти что заглохло в Советском Союзе, но сейчас опять процветает. Селиверстов говорит, что «многие люди наидут бивня и не знают что с ним делать», и держат их в каких то шкафах, пока не знают какую ценность они представляют. И так, Селиверстов недавно купил 16 фунтов (т.е. 8 кг) за 500 долларов США.
Такое торговле может увеличиваться, потому что климат потеплеет, и все больше и больше бивня наидутся в тундре. Торговля ими легально, и даже поддерживается природоохранными организациями. Потому что елефанты, на пример, они почти уже вымираюшие, а для мамонтов – уже поздно. Бивня мамонта удовлетворяет частично большой спрос на бивня элэфанта в Азии, и по этому, торговле защищает всемирная популация элэфантов.
Алексей Тихонов, директор музеи зоологии в Питере, говорит что прошлом году вывезено из России было 40 тонн бивня мамонта – а в 1989, лишь 2 тонна.
Главные дилеры в Москве хотят около 150-200 долларов за  500 грамм (фунт), среднее качество. А на западе уже можно продать за 800.
Главные «находители» - это оленеводы, нефтяники/газовики, и профессиональные охотники.
Наверно около 150 миллионов мамонтов спрятано в сибирской мерзлоте, соответствуюшее число эпохи плейстоцена. Мамонты появились где то 400 000 лет назад, а последные вымерли около 3600 лет назад – нашли их на острове около Чукотки в 1993 г.
Бивня появляется после весенного таяния снега/льда, после сильных дождей, или на оврагах рек. Так же наидется в ходе буровых работ нефтяников/газовиков. Свежие бивня мамонта почти что «девственный», а если его не собирать, он «расстворяется» в ходе 3 лет, если его не зашишать от элементов природы.
По этому, Тихонов говорит, что торговле стимулирует собирать то, что иначе исчезает. Так или иначе, больше бивня мамонта наверно разрушается природой, чем собрано и торговлено.
Тем не менее, Гари Хэйнс, палеоантрополог с университета Невада говорит, что жалко увидеть, как бивня разрушатся резьбой, которые возможно содержат ценную научную информацию, на пример о древнем климате, о народах Сибири, древных болезни, древная охота, и возможные причины исчезновения мамонтов. Но Хэйнс так же понимает бизнесменов: мамонтов в живых уже нет, а людям надо жить.
Кроме того, правительство России изучают бивня, и допускают только такие к вывозу, которые не нужны для науки.
90% сибирских бивня мамонта вывезено в Азию.
Бивня много, а целых мамонтов мало, так что они конечно остаются в стране. Недавно Ненецкий оленевод нашел мамонтеннок на Ямальском Полуострове, в мае 2007. Назвали его Люба, и сохраняется в морозильнике у господина Тихонова в музее.
Господин Селиверстов говорит, что у него нет угрызения совести работать с древным историческим сырем. «Люди будут хранить мое искусство поколенями. Это значит, я даю мамонтам вторую жизнь».

Last update: Florian Stammler, 03/11/2009

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